Big Bear, CA, February 7, 2012, 5:00pm -The Bear Valley Unified School District’s Board of Trustees held a Special Board Workshop meeting Monday evening to learn more about what is needed in pursuing a Parcel Tax in the Big Bear Valley. At a meeting on February 1st, the Board had agreed to move forward with a Parcel Tax election to help our School District fund our student’s education in light of dramatic budget cuts from Sacramento. Political consultant, Charles Heath of TBWB Strategies outlaid that process for the Board and eighteen members of the public in attendance. The inherent political challenges facing the implementation of a Parcel Tax, that would allow for school programs and services to be funded as outlined by our School District, were thoroughly discussed by Mr. Heath which included key strategies and election date considerations that the Board will need to make a decision on soon. Mr. Heath is recommending a July 10th election day in the form of a mail ballot allowing for sufficient time to draft the measure, educate the community, organize supporters, establish committees and more. Initial ballot testing, by way of surveys, were done in both 2010 and 2011. Due to the current economic climate, Mr. Heath is recommending a new survey be completed to determine how the public would feel about a Parcel Tax measure this year since it’s difficult to make decisions using old data. The investment for moving forward with a Parcel Tax does not come inexpensively. A new poll, of 300 residents, would cost the District between $17,000 and $19,000. Additionally, the cost of a mail ballot is $50,000 in comparison to putting forth the Parcel Tax during a regular election when it would cost between $18,000 and $20,000. Mr. Heath explained that the success of a favorable Parcel Tax vote, which needs two-thirds majority support, would depend on volunteers and money. He continued to explain that 60 to 80 dedicated volunteers and between $40,000 and $45,000 in fundraising dollars will be what it takes. And, the District cannot financially support this aspect of the tax measure. Tried and true methods to raise private funds were discussed including requesting donations from organizations that benefit from supporting the schools as well as vendors that do business with the School District and even passing the hat at parent pick up. How much is the big question in regards to the tax measure and the answer lies within the tax tolerance of this community. Mr. Heath outlined various tax rate dollar considerations from as low as $25 and as high as $99 although he fully admitted; a $99 tax rate is far-fetched. Not surprisingly, support is known to increase as the tax rate drops. With the financial crisis our School District is faced with it’s important to understand that the Parcel Tax won’t solve all of the District’s financial woes but the promise could be make to prevent the worst of those cuts by passing a Parcel Tax that would most likely remain in place for 4 to 6 years until the State is conceivably back on track financially. Exact details of the measure have yet to be determined but BVUSD has placed notice of a public hearing for March 21st at 6:30pm at the Big Bear Middle School Library to consider adopting a resolution proposing to establish this special tax for our schools guaranteeing exemption for certain seniors and disabled residents. The Board is expected to meet again on Wednesday, February 8th at 5:15pm at the School District Office located on Moonridge Road to take action regarding the new survey. Stay tuned to KBHR for more details.
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