Local communities were relatively likely to pass parcel taxes in the past three years--until November 2010
Communities can, with a two-thirds vote, approve a tax on parcels of land to raise funds for schools. Most parcel taxes assess a flat fee on each parcel of property, no matter what its size or value. These taxes generally remain in effect for three to 10 years, but the timeframe can be longer, even permanent.
School districts occasionally use parcel tax proceeds for facilities, but in the vast majority of cases, the money is used for operating expenses. Parcel taxes typically generate a few hundred dollars per pupil in districts that pass them. Statewide, such taxes affect a small percentage of students.
Local communities were relatively likely to pass parcel taxes in the past three years
Data: School Services of California, Inc.; and League of Women Voters of California-Smart Voter
Of the 542 parcel tax elections held from 1983 through November 2010, 289 (53%) passed. However, in recent years, the passage rate has generally been higher than that. Since January 2008, communities approved 68 of 111 parcel tax measures, a 61% passage rate. The figure above shows parcel tax election results during the past three years, broken down into six-month periods.
Of note is the relatively high approval rate in July-December 2008. All of the elections in that six-month span occurred in November 2008, just a few weeks after many voters had seen their retirement plans nosedive in value.
Also of note, however, is the dramatically low passage rate in the most recent election. A generally anti-tax electorate in November 2010 approved only two of 17 parcel tax measures for K-12 schools.