Los Angeles voters will be able to cast ballots on a proposed property tax for schools, but the measure will face a hearing on its validity after the June 4 election.
If approved by two-thirds of voters, Measure EE would raise an estimated $500 million a year over 12 years to help fund traditional and charter schools within the boundaries of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
But the measure faces a lawsuit over whether the district improperly altered the ballot language without a public hearing and vote by the Board of Education.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel on Thursday declined to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. — a disappointment for lawyers representing L.A. Unified. On the other hand, Strobel also refused to halt the election, which opponents of the tax had requested.
“The only question on which the court had to make a decision is whether it will issue an order interfering with the ongoing election, and it did not,” district officials said in a statement.
Opponents interpreted events differently.
“Today’s decision affirms that LAUSD may have made a number of mistakes in their rushed ballot measure,” said Matt Klink, a spokesman for No on EE.
A spokesman for the Yes on EE campaign said the entire litigation was a campaign publicity ploy.
“This is a political stunt dressed up like a lawsuit,” Yusef Robb said.
The revised text was a description of what would be taxed. Language approved by the board Feb. 28 referred to “habitable” space on a property. On March 11, Supt. Austin Beutner asked county election officials to change the description to “the square footage of all buildings or structures erected on or affixed to the land.”
That created a stir when opponents claimed the new definition would include taxing the square footage of parking structures and garages.
On Tuesday, the school board passed a resolution asserting that the tax would not be applied to commercial or residential parking structures and garages.
The next court hearing is scheduled for June 6.