The Valley Industry & Commerce Association has come out against a June ballot measure for a parcel tax to raise money for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The Van Nuys business advocacy group opposes the tax because there is no plan on how the money will be spent and some of the exemptions granted to not pay the tax.
“We are unhappy it is being rammed through,” VICA President Stuart Waldman told the Business Journal. “There was no opportunity for discussion or negotiation.”
The school board wanted to get the measure on the June ballot rather than in November to “ride on the coattails of the positive feelings” from the six-day teachers strike in early January, Waldman said.
“That is bad way to do policy,” he added.
The school district board on Thursday had unanimously approved placing for voter approval a new annual assessment of 16 cents per square foot on property owners’ indoor space. It is projected to raise about $500 million a year for the 12-year life of the tax.
That amount is 10 times the amount of any other parcel tax per square foot that has been passed, Waldman said.
For example, Measure A, passed by Los Angeles County voters in November 2016, was for a parcel tax of 1.5 cents per square foot to fund parks, recreation centers and water conservation projects.
VICA also did not like the number of exceptions. Senior citizens and those who rely on disability payments would not have to pay the tax. That would mean that homeowners in wealthy areas 65 years or older would not pay, Waldman said.
Additionally, the school district has not made a good faith effort to show that they can spend the money well, Waldman continued.
“We don’t know how the money is going to be spent,” he added. “We don’t know how it is going to make L.A. Unified better. There is no plan.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti came out in favor of the parcel tax, saying that he was grateful to the school board for giving city residents an opportunity to bring to life the new contract between the teachers and school district in a way that can transform students’ lives.
“A free and excellent public education is the right of every child — and when thousands of Angelenos took to the streets in support of students and teachers last month, it was because we all agree on a fundamental truth: we have to give our children every possible resource to succeed in the classroom and take their knowledge into the world,” Garcetti said in a statement.