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School District Responds to Court of Appeals Invalidating Part of 2008 Parcel Tax

The Alameda Unified School District is evaluating all options for proceeding in courts and legislature after the state's Court of Appeal ruling.

From the Alameda Unified School District

Yesterday the California Court of Appeal ruled in the case of Borikas et al. v. Alameda Unified School District, a lawsuit filed by parcel tax opponents challenging the legality of Measure H, a parcel tax passed in 2008.

The Court of Appeal's decision reversed in part and affirmed in part a past trial court ruling in favor of the District that had dismissed the legal challenge to Measure H. Yesterday's decision validates the parts of Measure H that taxed certain parcels $120 but also directs the trial court to declare invalid parts of Measure H that taxed certain commercial and industrial property at a different rate than $120 per parcel. The decision also directs the trial court to conduct further proceedings to determine whether there should be any further remedies, including the possibility of refunds of some tax revenues collected from 2008-2011.

Measure H was passed by more than two-thirds of voters in June 2008 to help protect key educational programs and teachers in the District. It was in effect for three years until voters passed a replacement parcel tax, Measure A, in March 2011.

Yesterday's decision on Measure H does not affect the legality of Measure A. In 2011 the District won a court decision in Nelco, Inc. et al. v. Alameda Unified School District, whichconcluded Measure A is valid and legal. The plaintiffs in the Nelco case did not appeal the court's ruling and the time for filing that appeal has now passed. As a result, Measure A funding is secure for the remaining five years of Measure A's seven year term.

In November 2010 after extensive outreach and in partnership with many leaders of our business community, the Board of Education voted unanimously to structure Measure A so that it applies the same tax rates to residential property as it does to commercial and industrial property, unlike Measure H.

Superintendent Vital expressed her concerns about what the Court of Appeal ruling could mean: "If the trial court orders refunds of tax revenues already collected and spent, this decision has the potential to be a significant blow to our budget with many negative consequences for our students, teachers and staff. The decision also has significant public policy and budget implications for school districts across the state. Accordingly, we are carefully evaluating all of our options in the courts and the legislature."

Board President Margie Sherratt pledged: "The ramifications of this decision will be considered seriously and carefully by the Board of Education.  Our next steps will be based on the most positive potential outcome for all of the children in Alameda."

The Court of Appeal's ruling is posted here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A129295.PDF

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