With improved economic times, San Mateo County Community College District board members unanimously decided Wednesday night to not renew a parcel tax that helps fund its colleges.
Since the district has been able to grow its offerings back into place and has moved to taking more money in as a basic aid district — those funded by property taxes — the parcel tax is no longer necessary, said Trustee Dave Mandelkern. In 2010, San Mateo County voters approved Measure G, a $34 annual tax per parcel, which expires June 30.
“We went for the parcel tax when we were in deep financial crisis,” Mandelkern said. “The state was cutting money left and right and we needed the money. It really helped and now, four years later, the situation is pretty different. … We appreciate the support of the people of San Mateo County, but it’s not an emergency now. It’s the right thing to do; not to keep our hand in the pocket.”
Board President Karen Schwarz expressed the board’s appreciation to San Mateo County on the tax to help the district through a fiscal crisis brought on by years of state budget reductions. At the time, the district’s three colleges were facing unprecedented demand for classes due to the recession and widespread unemployment. At one point, there were more than 13,000 students on wait lists for classes, Schwarz said.
“The parcel tax — the first ever for a community college district in California — allowed our colleges to offer hundreds of classes to tens of thousands of students who otherwise wouldn’t have been served,” she said in a statement. “Our fiscal situation has stabilized and improved.”
The parcel tax was put in place to provide College of San Mateo, Skyline College and Cañada College local funds to ensure affordable quality education for students including training for careers in nursing, health care, technology, engineering, sciences, police, firefighting, maintaining core academics in reading, writing, math, preparing students for universities and keeping libraries open.
The board next meets March 26.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105