Another “Ramsey Tax” (WCCUSD bond #6) has now been approved for the ballot by our school board. What better time than now to check out what we’re paying extra to live in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Keep in mind all property tax bills are public info and web-accessible (in California). I looked up mine from the Contra Costa County Tax Collector’s site.

The bill itself is an intimidating jumble. On the left-hand side are parcel taxes (not directly based on the assessed value of the parcel), and on the right-hand side areĀ ad valorem taxes (based on the assessed value of the parcel). School bonds are ad valorem taxes.

I pulled out the school taxes and put them in an online spreadsheet. I also added additional contextual info and used “typical” parcel values from a Contra Costa Times editorial.

The Bonds

What’s truly astonishing is just how huge the bill is now for 5 bonds, especially compared to everything else on the extra ad valorem side. For BART, the water district, the parks district, and community college, the combined rate is $32.30/$100K; for WCCUSD, the rate is $232.20/$100K. That’s a more than 7:1 ratio.

MRAD

Another interesting aspect of the tax bill is the MRAD (Maintenance and Recreation Assessment District) assessment. This deserves its own article, but here’s the short story. It’s a $72/parcel tax. It is mostly used to pay for “Maintenance and Operations” (80%). This is probably all salaries that would have to be funded by general operating funds otherwise, so it’s a lot like the other parcel tax. A small part of the expenditures is used for funding small construction-related projects at schools, so it’s also used a little like bond funds.

What Next?

My next step is to poke around tax bills for other school districts to see how much other school districts charge on the bills and check the proportion of taxes for constuction vs. operations.

View the online spreadsheet.