LIVERMORE — In early returns for a special election Tuesday evening, voters appeared to be very narrowly supporting the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District’s parcel tax renewal measure, known as Measure A.
To pass, the measure needs the support of two-thirds of the voters in the school district, which includes Livermore in Alameda County and a very small portion of Contra Costa County.
In the first batch of results issued by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office, yes votes for the tax measure renewal were slightly eclipsling the two-thirds mark. There are a total of nearly 59,000 registered voters in the district in Alameda County, and a little more than 14,500 votes had been counted as of Tuesday at 8:09 pm It’s unclear what the total voter turnout will be in this special mail-in ballot election.
In Contra Costa County, there are only a total of 189 registered voters within the school district boundaries. As of 8:01 pm, the Elections Division showed that 67 votes had been counted so far, and there was a nearly 50/50 split between those supporting the tax measure renewal, and those opposing it.
If approved, the measure would extend by seven years an existing $138 tax levied against all property owners in the school district boundary annually.
The current tax, Measure G, was approved by voters in 2014, and is set to expire in July.
The school district, which had about 13,300 students enrolled last year, collects about $4 million annually from the tax currently.
The money is used “to retain quality teachers and core academic programs,” and pay for elementary science instructors and K-12 technology specialists, according to the district website and officials.
The special election was challenged by Alan Heckman, a Livermore resident and member of the advocacy group, the Alameda County Taxpayers Association. Heckman and attorney Jason Bezis argued the district was misleading voters with the language it used in the 75-word ballot question for the parcel tax renewal.
The ballot description of the tax measure says it would “renew expiring local school funding without increasing taxes,” and says the money “cannot be taken by the state.”
Money from the tax would be used to “preserve quality academics in math, science, reading, writing, engineering and technology; attract and retain qualified teachers; preserve TK-12 technology and elementary science specialists” and to “keep classroom technology and curriculum up-to-date,” the ballot description says.
Some of those phrases, such as “without increasing taxes” are “more akin to a campaign slogan” and are not impartial, while phrases like “cannot be taken by the state” are misleading because locally raised school funds are not under threat from the state, according to Bezis.
School district leaders rejected the assertions, saying they were being clear and straight-forward with voters, and defended the longstanding measure — which has been renewed twice before — as necessary and important for local education.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch sided with the district, and ruled in late February Heckman’s complaint was without merit. Roesch denied Heckman’s request to halt the May 3 election and amend the ballot question.