The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Landlords Trying to Mobilize Students Against Parcel Tax?

Vanguard Analysis Shows Scare Tactics and Deception Used in Flier Passed Out At an Apartment Complex

The Vanguard received late word last night that some landlords may be trying to mobilize their student tenants against the parcel tax.

A flier was apparently passed around at least one apartment complex outlining the parcel tax, making the case as to why students should be concerned, and then asking them to attend today's school board meeting which is at 9 am in the East Conference Room in the district office located at 526 B Street.
"With our tenants facing higher enrollment fees and gas prices at the pump, we have had increased inquiries regarding the proposed new school tax of $80-$140 per house and $40-70 per apartment unit per year..."
This sounds scary until you actually do the math. First, the general cost passed on to students is about half of the per unit price, meaning they are looking at a $20 to $35 dollar PER YEAR increase. Broken down to a monthly basis, you are talking $3 per month.

Even the increase to $196 PER UNIT PER YEAR for ALL school taxes would mean at most $8 to $9 per month for the student. In other words, students are not going to feel this increase. Landlords may, but not students.
"There are three (3) school age students in the 300 units we surveyed on Alvarado, which averages one (1) student per 100 apartments. One has to wonder how the School Board decided that an apartment should pay half of the amount of a house when there are most likely 50 to 100 kids per 100 houses. Why should UCD student housing pay 50 to 100 times more per student than houses do? Shouldn't the tax be proportional to burden on the school system?"
The logic is somewhat subjective. The public pays for public schools regardless of whether or not there are school aged kids in the residence. The tax burden is generally spread based on ability to pay. The numbers game is somewhat of a shell game to begin with. 50 to 100 times more sounds very scary until again you realize that the student in total is paying at most $8 to $9 per month as the result of the parcel tax combined with all other taxes and would only pay an additional $3 per month for this new tax. Remember many students share a residence, meaning that the burden on each individual is very small.

The leaflet does raise a valid point however here:
"Our concern is that there was no study to show how much burden apartments should carry and that eventually these taxes result in rent increases."
And that is something to look into. However, the point is unfortunately wrapped in some distortions and apparent scare tactics. A $200 per year tax per unit is not going to result in a huge rent increase on a per monthly basis.

The leaflet then shifts the burden to the Davis Schools Foundation. Pointing out that they raised 1.7 million in donations last year.

They ask:
"Should the School Board add a new parcel tax every year to cover costs, or should the School Foundation continue fundraising?"
This is a red-herring. First of all, the school board is not going to add a new parcel tax every year. Second, the school foundation is going to continue fundraising. However, the school foundation, as great as they are, is not going to sustain that level of fundraising indefinitely. The idea was to bridge the gap until the school board could find a more reliable stream of revenue to cover the deficit between spending needs and revenue.

The leaflet then concludes:
"The school board will have to hope the uninformed UCD students will vote for a tax that is unfairly weighted on them, especially at a time when UCD Students are facing an 11-13% increase in enrollment fees."
Unfortunately, message such as this flier are not going to help inform UCD Students. This is basically a scare tactic. This leaflet is completely dishonest. It presents students with basic facts about the parcel tax but in a very distorted manner without breaking down what the actual per monthly cost will be.

They then encourage the students to write emails to the Board of Education, the Superintendent, and the Davis Enterprise. Apparently the tactic got a few students to write in.

There are legitimate concerns that students and landlords alike may share in this process. The school board should have the burden to lay out and education the public on this process. However, tactics like this leaflet are not the answer. It is unfortunate that someone has stooped to this level of trying to scare students to oppose the parcel tax.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting