Measure H

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your weekly news in review. Here are your headlines for this week.

The school district and commercial property owners who a court decided were unfairly taxed under a 2008 school parcel levy are working to negotiate a settlement in the property owners’ five-and-a-half year old case.

Attorneys for both the school district and the property owners are set to meet in the spring and could wrap up in April, court filings show. A hearing to discuss the parties’ settlement efforts is scheduled for May.

“We are going to mediate the case to try and reach a fair and equitable resolution for all the parties,” said David Brillant, an attorney for some of the property owners.

Alameda’s Board of Education is setting aside $5.8 million to cover refunds the district may have to pay on its Measure H parcel tax.

The board voted 5-0 on Tuesday to repurpose an existing reserve fund it created in 2008 as state funding lurched over a cliff to cover the potential refunds. If needed, the money could cover close to 80 percent of what the district could have to pay out.

“Right now it seems to me – 80 percent seems like a prudent number. And right now we have it to set aside, so it’s not as painful,” Trustee Mike McMahon said.

Updated at 10:03 a.m. Thursday, March 7

A state appeals court has affirmed an earlier decision striking much of a 2008 school parcel tax, saying the school district had no right to impose different tax rates on residential and commercial property owners. The court plans to send the Measure H lawsuit back to a local trial court to determine whether much of the money collected over the three years the tax was in effect must be repaid, though it could also be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

A court ruling that struck down portions of a 2008 Alameda school parcel tax has prompted new lawsuits against four school districts that won voter approval of school parcel taxes in November.

Earlier this month, lawsuits were filed against the San Leandro, West Contra Costa and Davis school districts and a group of suburban Los Angeles districts alleging the districts violated state law by imposing taxes that charge different types of property owners different rates. They’re asking the courts to invalidate the taxes.

Updated at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 8

A state appeals court has agreed to revisit its decision to strike down portions of a 2008 Alameda school parcel tax, a ruling that could ultimately cost Alameda Unified millions of dollars and put other school districts’ parcel taxes at risk of being tossed by courts.

A state appeals court’s decision to strike down portions of a school parcel tax that Alameda voters approved in 2008 could have major implications for other California school districts seeking similar taxes – unless state lawmakers opt to change the rules granting school districts the right to levy them.

“This decision is certainly a major obstacle for any such taxes, but this can be changed by legislative action,” said Darien Shanske, associate professor of law at Hastings College of the Law.

Updated at 1:19 p.m. Friday, December 7

A state appeals court has ruled the school district exceeded its taxing authority when it imposed a parcel tax that required some property owners to pay more than others, a decision that could ultimately force the school district to pay back millions of dollars in taxes it collected and spent and that may have implications for other school and special districts that tax some property owners differently than others.