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Ballots out for school tax renewal
February 03, 2010, 01:10 AM By Heather Murtagh

Renewing a $180 annual parcel tax supporting schools, set to end next year, means maintaining smaller classes and student access to specialized teachers, said proponents of Measure B, an all-mail ballot now before Burlingame voters.

Burlingame voters are asked to renew two taxes totaling $180 — Measure A, a $76 yearly parcel tax for eight years passed in 2003, and Measure S, a $104 annual parcel tax for six years that started in 2005 — for 10 years under Measure B. If passed, the measure would begin in July 2011 and continue generating $1.4 million annually for the district. Supporters will simply help the district offer what is already provided. Opponents argue schools account for over half the state’s budget and their administrators should be able to live within those means.

Parcel tax revenue is close to 7.5 percent of the district’s annual budget, said Marc Friedman, a former district trustee who is now treasurer of the Committee to Protect Great Burlingame Schools, which supports Measure B. Cutting that will impact everything, he said.

Bill Crandall, co-chair of the Committee to Protect Great Burlingame Schools, said the real risk is losing the results generated from investing in children by supporting teachers offering specialized staff and early interventions.

Jack Hickey, who signed the argument against the measure, wrote public schools consume over half the state’s budget and continue to ask for more.

"We couldn’t stop Sacramento from raising sales and income taxes last year — but we can finally put an end to one long-standing ‘temporary’ parcel tax,” reads the letter signed by Hickey and Harland Harrison, chair of the Libertarian Party of San Mateo County.

A survey of 400 people within the Burlingame Elementary School District surveyed in late October showed the most support for a parcel tax if it was a simple renewal with no increase. The measure before voters has no increase and does not include inflation.

Burlingame has always supported schools, said Friedman, but it didn’t seem fair to ask neighbors for more right now.

Ballots were mailed Feb. 1 and must be at the election office, 40 Tower Road in San Mateo, by 8 p.m. March 2 to be counted. Ballots can also be dropped off at Burlingame City Hall, 501 Primrose Road. Those who have yet to register to vote but would like to in this election must register by Feb. 16. Voter registration forms are available at City Hall, local post offices and other government agencies.

For more information visit

Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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