Districts and cities often ask for a tax measure to get through a tough time with a promise it will end in a few years. And too often, they will ask for voters to pass it again because, after all, voters are already paying for it.
So it’s refreshing that the Board of Trustees of the San Mateo County Community College District decided it would not move ahead with plans to ask for a new version of Measure G last week. Measure G was a $34 annual parcel tax that the district sought when budgetary concerns were sky-high. Not only were there state cuts, but more people were coming back to the county’s three community colleges — Skyline, Cañada and the College of San Mateo — for more education and job training to help with unemployment. In 2010, there were more than 13,000 students on wait lists for classes, the district had lost $25 million lost from the county investment pool because of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the state had just cut $25 million from the district’s budget and our county’s students were about to lose out on much-needed educational opportunities. At the time, asking voters for a parcel tax to help fund community college education was unprecedented — no other college district in the state had ever asked for it.
Fast-forward to today, and the budget picture has improved and trustees smartly opted out of asking for a renewal when it expired this June.
There may also have been a bit of practicality in the decision as the last measure narrowly passed the two-thirds threshold even with the district’s dire budget situation. But that’s neither her nor there. The fact is, keeping the $6 million the measure brought in annually must have been tempting. But the district Board of Trustees kept its word and said it was indeed an emergency measure to get through a tough time. Other districts and cities should keep that in mind when their “emergency measures” reach their sunset.