Mystery Education Theater 3000

Tag: contra costa county

WCCUSD School Bond Tax Rates Compared to Local School Districts (2014 Edition)

taxRateBars

WCCUSD does excel at one thing!

Two years ago, before the passage of the measure E (2012) bond, I posted twice comparing the school bond property tax rate in the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) to other districts in Contra Costa County and then to districts in northern Alameda County. Measure E (2012) passed.

Now, it’s two years later, and I get to show again how far out of wack we are as a district even before the new proposed measure H (2014) bond would pass. I’ll update things to be nicer, but, in the meantime, here’s a link to the Google spreadsheet with the rates:

Finding the Numbers

This time it was easier for me to find the tax rates. For Contra Costa County:

  1. Point your browser to the county document center: http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/documentcenterii.asp.
  2. Open the folder for “Auditor-Controller”.
  3. Click on “Property Tax Publications”.
  4. Open the PDF file, “Detail of Tax Rates 2013-14”.
  5. Turn to page 3.

For Alameda County:

  1. Point your browser to the “Debt Service Tax Rates by District Type” page: https://www.acgov.org/auditor/tax/debtservicesearch.htm
  2. Choose “K-12 School Districts”, make sure “2013-2014” is one of the compare years, and click the Search button.

What Can You Do?

One thing you can do is e-mail the school board and ask them if they are even aware of just how much WCCUSD pays for school bonds as taxes compared to other school districts–before this new one. This is a “mailto:” link for all of them.

 

School Bond Tax Rates by School District in Contra Costa County

To commemorate the placement of another WCCUSD bond (#6) on the November ballot by our school board, I took a look at my own property tax bill to see what I was already paying even before the extra estimated $48/$100K would get tacked on.

It seemed like a lot, but what about other districts in the county? Is $232/$100K assessed value (proposed to be bumped to $280) a lot? Here are my results for the last billing cycle displayed as a table, a Tableau-generated chart, and a crude heat map.

Unified District or Elem. District
within High School District
Tax Rate
West Contra Costa$232.20
Pittsburg$144.30
Oakley/Liberty$115.30
Brentwood/Liberty$107.40
Byron/Liberty$73.10
San Ramon$66.40
Moraga/Acalanes$64.50
Lafayette/Acalanes$61.20
Mt. Diablo$61.20
Martinez$60.80
Orinda/Acalanes$60.70
Walnut Creek/Acalanes$57.30
John Swett$41.80
Antioch$41.70
Knightsen/Liberty'$38.60
Canyon/Acalanes$33.30
AVERAGE$78.74
MEDIAN$61.20

(The heat map’s redness is proportional to the percentage of the highest tax rate.)

How I Got This

The County Auditor publishes a list of ad valorem (per assessed value) tax rates in October. I got a link to the last report from a reporter. On page 3 is a list of the bonds and their rates. I picked them out by district (either unified K-12 or elementary within a high school district) and added them up.

You can see all of this in an online spreadsheet. The second “Tax Rates” tab lists the individual bonds; the first “By Districts” tab combines the bond tax rates and charts them.

Conclusion

People in the West Contra Costa Unified School District pay an incredibly disproportionate tax rate for school bonds even before tacking on an extra 20% increase in the tax rate through this proposed new bond. Remember, WCCUSD is a declining enrollment district. The closest competitors in tax rate are districts that have had substantial growth recently. While I’m sure there are rationalizations for us having a high school bond tax rate (before the new bond is even added in), the rationalizations would have to explain not just why WCCUSD is comparable to expanding districts, but why we leap over all other school districts in the county to such an exaggeratedly high tax rate.

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