Mountain View resident Steve Nelson has written a counterargument to Measure A, a $41.3 million Mountain View-Los Altos High School District bond measure that will be on the June ballot. In it, he asks voters to cast a "no" vote — not because there is something significantly wrong with the high school bond measure, but to protest the city's Shoreline Community tax district, which diverts property tax revenue from local schools.
Mountain View Whisman School District officials began raising the issue recently in hopes of getting a larger share of property taxes from Shoreline companies like Google. By contrast, high school officials have said they are "satisfied" with the current tax arrangement. But Nelson is taking the issue to their ballot measure anyway.
"Think of this property tax extension as a referendum," he writes in the rebuttal. "Should Google, Microsoft and the Shoreline District businesses get out of regular school taxes, forever?"
As the Voice reported on March 12, the tax district diverts millions in property taxes from Shoreline-area companies — $10 million this year alone — away from local schools and into a city fund. The fund covers city services and improvements to the Shoreline business park area north of Highway 101, including Shoreline Park operations.
City officials say the area would not be the economic engine that it is without this special fund to help maintain and improve it. They also point out that both the elementary and high school districts receive several perks paid out of the fund, including about a half-million dollars each per year for technology programs in a 2005 "joint powers agreement."
In the ballot statement he filed with the county Registrar of Voters, Nelson, who says he has been complaining about the Shoreline tax district to local school officials for about a year, calls on parents to "hold your nose and vote no in just this one election," and to vote yes on it in the future.
"The message will be clear. Permanently fix this tax unfairness."
Measure A would not raise property taxes but would extend the current tax rate — previously set to expire in 2024 — to 2030. The money it raises would pay for new classrooms and for "green renovations" at the city's two high schools.
Overall, the district does better financially than the elementary school district thanks to higher property values and greater fundraising efforts in Los Altos.