Letter to the Editor (below) was submitted by Ensen Mason, CPA, CFA, of Redlands,
CA. The un-edited document below is offered for the benefit of anyone, who may
choose to read it.
direct responses to: Ensen Mason, CPA,
300 E State Street Ste 504
Redlands, CA 92373
Ensen Mason, San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector
13 is on the March 3, 2020 ballot; but it really isn’t. By an ironic twist of
ballot measure labeling fate, a school bond measure on steroids was given the
honor of being called Proposition 13 this March.
one is a bigger fan of the real Proposition 13 than I am. The real
one was the iconic property tax limitation measure passed overwhelmingly by
California voters in June 1978 that limited property taxes to 1% of assessed
valuation, with a maximum 2% cost of living increase annually. It’s a number
that should be retired to the Ballot Proposition Hall of Fame – but that’s
so-called Proposition 13 on the ballot you are about to receive is a $15
billion dollar school bond measure. However, if you include the interest
taxpayers will be paying over the next 30 years, it’s really a $27 billion
dollar school bond measure.
wait, there’s more – and that’s not good news for taxpayers either. A little
noticed provision that nobody is talking about allows elementary and high
school districts to increase the rate of bonded indebtedness in their districts
from 1.25% of local bond measures to 2%, and unified and community college
districts to go from 2.5% to 4%. This allows for possible massive tax increases
to the taxpayers. The worst part is that can be done without another vote of
the people and it can be retroactive to past bonds!!
a look at your most recent property tax bill and see how many bonds you are
already paying off. Now imagine your local school district increasing that
total by 60% without your approval. If you vote YES on the March 2020
Proposition 13, you’ve just allowed your school district to do that, plus put
yourself on the hook to pay off this new 27 billion. Too many people think of
bonds as a relatively harmless alternative to a tax increase – but it’s really
just another form of tax increase payable over a 30 year period. Think of it as
taking out another mortgage on your house. Do you really want to do that?
odd provision not typical with school bonds is the part about giving developers
20% tax breaks on developer fees to support schools for building multifamily
dwellings, and eliminating the fees entirely if the development is within a
half mile of a public transit stop. These breaks would end in 2026. This
subject has been debated in a number of legislative bills over the past few
years. So how did this developer tax break end up in a school bond? Who would
make up the difference for the fees the developers didn’t pay? Probably all the
other taxpayers in the district.
are all things to consider in deciding whether to vote yes or no on this
proposition and I wanted to bring them to your attention. For me personally,
the problems outweigh the benefits which is why I will vote no.