La Cañada Unified School District supporters were elated and relieved to learn Tuesday night that the much fought-for Measure LC parcel tax received 68.16% of the vote — eking just above the two-thirds threshold required for passage.
With the mail-in ballots counted and a scant amount of walk-in ballots yet to be tallied, school district officials mingled happily with parents, past and present school board members and a who's who list of La Cañada notables who turned out at a house party to hear the results.
At 8:05 p.m., Los Angeles County Registar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan announced the semi-final results — 3,403 votes in favor of LC, and 1,590 votes against it. Hovering intently over a laptop set up at the party, former state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino and supporter Dale Storz refreshed the screen waiting for the numbers to come in.
When Measure LC campaign head and parent Barry Reed read the vote count aloud, a cheer rang out through the crowd. Many expressed a belief the walk-in ballots would be largely positive.
"I'm feeling very hopeful and very indebted to all the people who worked on Measure LC," said Wendy Sinnette, La Cañada Unified School District superintendent, following Reed's announcement. "I think everybody's hearts were in their stomachs. But that was an amazing first report."
About 39% of eligible registered voters cast ballots, according to county figures. Tuesday night's vote count reflected only ballots received as of 1 p.m. the day before, but since Measure LC was a mail-in race, the county received a majority of votes before election day.
The final audited results will be released by the County Registrar-Recorder's Office on March 14.
Once the measure officially passes, property owners will pay an annual $450 per parcel owned throughout a seven-year period.
Ultimately, according to an estimate provided by Reed at the event, the tax could bring in $17 million to $18 million to maintain programming, make needed maintenance repairs and facility upgrades and keep class sizes in certain grades from swelling.
Supporters say the tax will also provide a measure of financial stability at a time when Gov. Jerry Brown's remodeling of California school funding brings new uncertainties about the future.
"For years, the district has only been able to think two feet in front of them because there's been this specter of financial insecurity," Board Vice President Andrew Blumenfeld said Tuesday night. "(Now) a good school district gets to have a vision beyond the next Sacramento legislative session."
At the event, organizers thanked the more than 100 volunteers who helped spread the word about the need for Measure LC. Anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 phone calls were made in just a few months, according to Reed, who compared this recent effort to the last parcel tax passed in 2009.
"Last time, we had more wind in our sails," Reed said of the $150 per parcel tax, which passed with 75% of the vote but sunsets this June. "This was a higher degree of difficulty, it required a better execution and I think we did it."
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