City offers to schools a multi-million dollar compromise


In response to pressure from parents and school officials, the city of Mountain View is proposing to give up as much as $13.6 million in Shoreline Community property taxes to local schools over three years.

The proposal from city staff amounts to less for schools than parents in the "Share Shoreline" campaign said was fair, but Mountain View Whisman School District superintendent Craig Goldman said he was encouraged by the news. The city says MVWSD would receive $2.2 million a year over the next two fiscal years in a new ongoing "Joint Powers Agreement," along with one time annual payments of $900,000 to $1.8 million for the next two fiscal years ending in 2012-2013. That is less than the $5.9 million the district would receive this year if the city's unusual property tax arrangement for Shoreline were to sunset, as other redevelopment tax districts do.

On Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. the City Council will take up the proposal along with a second option that could extend negotiations past the city's July 1 budget deadline.

"We're encouraged by the city's position with respect to an option for sharing additional revenue," Goldman said of the proposal, which he saw Friday morning. "We're optimistic that -- if the city council is open to considering that option -- we can achieve a mutually beneficial resolution."

The funds would come from the city's Shoreline Community, a tax district created by special state legislation in 1969. The fund collects nearly all of the property taxes north of Highway 101, which would otherwise be shared with schools. It has paid for the development and maintenance of the 500-acre Shoreline Park, the 461-acre landfill underneath it and the surrounding business district, now home to Google headquarters. The value of that property has grown from $33.9 million in 1969 to $2.4 billion now, the city reports. Total property taxes were $19.1 million last year.

The MVWSD board discussed the issue Thursday evening. Share Shoreline campaign leader and MVWSD parent Jim Pollart said that according to his research the Shoreline Community is the only special district of its kind in California. He called for the school board to demand its fair share of tax revenues from the special district.

Goldman did not recommend that the board take any action, but said he wanted to make sure that everyone on the board understood the situation.

There has been less interest on the part of the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District to retrieve its share of the Shoreline property taxes, which would amount to an additional $3.6 million a year if the Shoreline Community went away. Both districts have received $450,000 a year from Shoreline in a special Joint Powers Agreement for several years. Under the proposal, MVLASD would receive a projected $1.4 million annually over the next two fiscal years in a new JPA, along with one-time payments of up to $1.2 million over the next two fiscal years.

All of the payments are projections as they would be based on a formula that would take into account the property tax rate, which changes every year based on property values.

To afford the school payments, city spending on capital projects at Shoreline would have to be cut back, and the city would have to dip into reserves for some projects. Which capital projects could be cut is uncertain, but future city projects at Shoreline include new soccer and baseball fields along Garcia Avenue and extensions of the Stevens Creek and Permanente Creek trails.

The City Council's study session on the proposal will take place Feb. 8 at 5p.m. in the City Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 500 Castro Street.

See also:

Mountain View Whisman eyes 'Shoreline Community' funds

Parents seek larger slice of Shoreline taxes


Like this comment
Posted by Elly
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Seems reasonably fair -- however, it is something that we'll want to look into long term. I'm not sure if Shoreline should be "sunsetted" completely, but it's ridiculous that the Shoreline tax district has been running a surplus these past few years, while special ed. teachers and aides disappear, classes mushroom to 30+ students in lower grades and parents have to teach and finance classes in order for local kids to get a quality education.

Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Seems a pitance considering the many billions of dollars of income generated there.

Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 5, 2011 at 9:55 am

(me again) The Political Process produces compromise. Shoreline could be "incompletely" sunsetted by a guarantee of 1/10 of the future property taxes there (takes statute change).
Where is that Assemblyman Paul Fong??? Not here when education needs him!

The JPA is just a contract agreement. Anything done by the city is only covered by that contract. As in this offer - they may increase the amount (for a set period) - or, and this is EXTREMELY CRITICAL, they may terminate all the $ after two years by a simple majority vote of just the Shoreline Board. (4 people) They only need to quote 'fiscal emergency' and the terms of the JPA contract allow them to bail. I've been studying this over 2 years, have read the contract, as have others, and it is SO CLEAR that even a non-lawyer can understand.
That contract (JPA) specifically refers to the "perpetual nature" of Shoreline District. It also 'subordinated' any payment to schools to future bonded indebtedness (read "next boutique hotel") that 4 members of the Council decide to borrow for. [This is decided by our elected representatives - the Council - but these bonds are NOT VOTED ON by the people - who must directly approve school bonds]
Mothers of Mountain View - do your kids deserve Full Funding for your schools? Share Shoreline - do you want to continually fight this funding battle? Instead of a "marriage with common property rights" this is a 'live together' arrangement - with none of the long-term legal guarantees.
This may be as far as the Political Process can take things. Do you think I'll compromise?

Like this comment
Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Looks like they ae throwing a bone instead of rightly eliminating this "special ta district".

Like this comment
Posted by oops!
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2011 at 10:41 am

@ James

For future reference - correct spelling is pittance

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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