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Local News

Tax Proposals, Veronica Meadows Project Among Ballot Measures Awaiting June Vote

With absentee ballots going out soon, here's a recap of what will be considered by residents in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria

As ballots get mailed out to absentee voters in early May for the June 5 election, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara area voters will be asked to consider local tax measures.

Measures W and X

The Santa Barbara Unified School District proposes a $54-per-parcel tax from 2013 to 2016 to replace the expiring Measures H and I. The proposed Measures W and X would reduce class sizes and “enhance” math, science, technology, music, arts and foreign language programs at district schools.

Superintendent Dave Cash said that’s enhanced from the state of things before Measures H and I were approved in 2008.

The measures would also fund computer and educational technology for elementary schools and trade-related courses for secondary schools.

Though the elementary and secondary districts have unified, parcel taxes use the old boundaries. This time, the district wants $54 per parcel, not $23 or $27.

Property owners who live within the former elementary district would have to pay $108, since they are within the former secondary boundaries as well. Seniors can opt out of paying, but only for the parcel of their primary residence.

The measures each require a supermajority — or two-thirds approval — to pass.

Measure U

Santa Maria residents will decide whether a quarter-percent sales tax is needed to fund public safety and other city services.

The City Council declared a fiscal emergency in January and placed Measure U on the June 5 ballot. If passed, which requires only a simple majority, it would offset budget cuts to fund neighborhood police and firefighters, at-risk youth programs, gang/drug suppression and enforcement teams, improving 9-1-1 emergency medical response times, preventing floods through levee repair and other city services, according to the ballot language.

It would expire in nine years and have an oversight committee and annual audits.

Though the city just built two new fire stations with federal grant money, it doesn’t have the money to staff Fire Station No. 5. According to the Santa Maria Times, the fire department is also applying for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants from the Department of Homeland Security to try to get the $1.7 million needed to hire nine firefighters to staff the station, scheduled to be completed this summer.

Measure Y

Santa Barbara’s Measure Y would allow developer Mark Lee to build a bridge for a housing project’ on public park land to create a main access road.

The 25-unit project, on the west side of Las Positas Road across from Elings Park, has been approved by the City Council, but the project’s bridge has proved to be a sticking point for Lee.

The bridge would provide access to the property and was the center of a 2007 lawsuit between Lee and the Citizens Planning Association. A judge ultimately ruled in favor of the Citizens Planning Association, stating that the developer would need to get voter approval to build the bridge because it would pass over a small strip of land designated as a city park.

Lee will pay for the bridge construction, restoration of Arroyo Burro Creek and $78,000 in election costs himself. Steve Amerikaner, Lee’s attorney, said that if the measure fails, alternatives will need to be considered, such as going through the nearby neighborhood for the main access road.

Ballot Language

» Measure Y: Shall the City Council allow the construction of a public road and bridge on undeveloped City parkland where a bridge is necessary for a housing development, commonly known as Veronica Meadows, and provides public access along Arroyo Burro Creek?

» Measure X (elementary school district): “To offset severe state budget cuts to our elementary schools; protect class size; enhance elementary math, science and technology education; and offer classroom music and performing arts programs at the elementary level, shall Santa Barbara Unified School District be authorized to implement a $54 annual parcel tax for four years, with an available exemption for senior citizens, with independent citizen oversight, without administrative salaries, and with every dollar staying in our local elementary schools?”

» Measure W (junior high and high school district): “To offset severe state budget cuts to our junior high and high schools; enhance secondary math, science, technology and career education; protect music, arts, foreign language and theater programs at the secondary level; and protect secondary class size, shall Santa Barbara Unified School District be authorized to implement a $54 annual parcel tax for four years, with an available exemption for senior citizens, with independent citizen oversight, without administrative salaries, and with every dollar staying in our local schools?”

» Measure Y: “To offset state budget cuts and maintain/restore essential services, such as: neighborhood police patrols/firefighter staffing; at-risk youth programs, gang/drug suppression and enforcement; improving 911 emergency medical response times; preventing floods through levee repair; and other vital city services, shall the City of Santa Maria enact a ¼-cent sales tax that can’t be taken by the State, expiring in nine years, requiring taxpayer oversight, annual independent audits, with all funds used locally in Santa Maria?”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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