Parcel tax survey voted down

April 10, 2003 11:00 pm

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

School officials decided last night they will not research the possibility of a parcel tax in Del Norte County to support extracurricular school programs.

The unanimous decision by the Del Norte County Unified School District board not to hire a survey team appeared to stem from a lack of community support.

"Until someone gets upset or gets hurt by our budget, they aren't going to be willing to put out money for this in taxes," said Boardmember Faith Crist.

Board President Bob Berkowitz said he thought the price for a phone survey, $14,750, was "way out of line" and the proposal from the Center For Com-munity Opinion was too vague.

"We should defer to what the community is saying right now and put this off for right now," said Boardmember Steve Parke. "The time is not right for this."

Boardmember Phil Freneau agreed it was too soon to entertain the idea since the state budget has not been ironed out. Back from a recent meeting in the Bay Area, Freneau said he spoke with personnel from other districts where parcel taxes were rejected.

Instead, the districts asked for contributions from individuals and local businesses to support music and sports programs of their choosing, and this had been fairly successful.

Superintendent Frank Lynch proposed the survey idea last month. He said it might be a way to gauge the community's willingness to adopt a parcel tax to support music and sports programs in the face of severe budget constraints from Sacramento.

Gov. Gray Davis proposed massive cuts and new taxes to grapple with a budget deficit somewhere between $26 billion and $34 billion during the next 18 months. The district is anticipating approximately $2.4 million in reductions during phase-one of state cuts. Another $2 million is anticipated for phase-two.

As many as 66 teachers and several administrators in the district were given pink slips earlier this month as a result of the anticipated reductions.