MISSION VIEJO : District Scuttles Plan for School Parcel Tax

Citing voter rejection of similar plans in neighboring districts, the Saddleback Valley Unified District has shelved two proposals for a parcel tax that could have raised up to $4.8 million yearly.

District trustees tabled the proposals Tuesday without taking a vote. Trustees said they doubt whether either proposal, if taken to district voters, could receive a necessary two-thirds vote.

One proposal would have placed a $96 annual tax on each parcel of land in the district, which would have raised $4.8 million a year. The second plan would have placed a $54 annual tax on each parcel and would have raised $2.7 million.

Similar proposals failed in the Irvine Unified School District earlier this month and in the Capistrano Unified School District in 1989. Irvine's measure, defeated at the polls June 4, would have placed a $35 annual tax on all parcels, while Capistrano's would have placed a $100 annual tax on homes and a $60 annual tax on condominiums, apartments and mobile homes.

"In light of Irvine and San Juan (Capistrano) failing, I think it best that we table this," Trustee Dore J. Gilbert said. "That does not necessarily mean that our measure would fail, but I'm not sure our community is ready for a parcel tax, with what is going on in Sacramento with taxes and the budget."

Trustee Bobbee Cline agreed.

"I think it is appalling that Irvine voters would not approve $35 a year for schools," she said. "We are in desperate need, but this measure is probably not salable. I think that is extremely sad. We need this money."

The district recently cut more than $2 million from its 1991-92 school budget and eliminated more than 20 programs because of reduced state funding.

Irvine's measure was approved by 62.2% of its voters, short of the 66.7% needed under state law to impose new local property taxes. Capistrano's measure gained approval from just 52.2% of its voters in May, 1989.

The Los Alamitos Unified School District is the only county district in which voters have recently approved a property tax measure. It gained 71% approval last year for a $13-million plan to refurbish schools.

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