DOWNTOWN — Early returns have Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s emergency parcel tax failing to gain the necessary two-thirds vote for approval, according to results posted by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder.
As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, Measure A received 11,330 votes or 63.18 percent. County election officials said there were 6,603 votes against the measure, which would tax property owners $198 per parcel.
The preliminary results were based on ballots received by mail before or on the May 25 deadline. There could be scores more ballots that were dropped off at a handful of locations left to count, election officials said. The results are expected to be certified June 4.
“There are many, many votes still to be counted. The stakes are very high for our schools, our students and our community. We will watch carefully and hope that the uncounted ballots will take us over the top,” said Rochelle Fanali, co-chair of the Yes on A Campaign. “Whatever the outcome of Measure A, our commitment to our schools and our students must continue. They deserve nothing less.”
Supporters of Measure A said the emergency parcel tax is sorely needed given that the school district is facing an estimated $10 million to $14 million deficit this coming school year and has received $10 million less from the state the last two years.
Without the estimated $5.6 million the parcel tax is expected to bring in, district officials said they would be forced to lay-off teachers, nurses, librarians and custodians, increase class sizes and possibly shorten the school year. Teachers have already agreed to take five furlough days over the next two years.
Opponents of the measure, who were significantly outspent, said the parcel tax is not equitable since it taxes large parcels like the Water Garden the same as a single-family home and complained that the senior exemption applies only to homeowners, not elderly renters on fixed incomes who will surely see higher rents when the tax would be passed through by landlords.