An attorney representing a property owner who is suing the Alameda Unified School District over its parcel tax has come out against the district's efforts to settle the lawsuit through the creation of a new tax, saying the focus should be on repealing the tax and not creating a new one.
Attorney David Brillant, who represents George Borikas, also criticized last month's decision by the Board of Education to create an advisory group to draft a new tax and repeal Measures H and A, which Alameda voters passed in 2005 and 2008, respectively.
"The law is clear that the repeal of a parcel tax requires a simple majority vote whereas the enactment of a parcel tax requires a two-thirds vote," Brillant said in a statement. "To put both questions before the voters on one ballot measure and require a two-thirds vote where repeal only requires a simple majority is illegal."
Brillant said his client has offered to settle with the school district, but he declined to provide details.
Along with Borikas, businessman John Beery is suing the district over the tax, saying it is unfair because residential and commercial property owners pay different rates.
The annual tax can range from $120 to $9,500 annually depending on the size of the owner's parcel.
Judge Kenneth Burr has consolidated the two lawsuits into a single case, which was set to go to trial last month. But in August the judge put off the trial to allow both sides time to try to reach a solution — a move that prompted district trustees to create the advisory group.
Among the 10 to 12 members of the group will be two representatives from Beery, who owns John Beery Yachts on Mariner Square Drive.
Trustees are expected to appoint the advisory group by Oct. 20 and hear its report by Jan. 11.
They are slated to vote on its recommendation Feb. 29, setting the stage for the issue to go before Alameda voters next year.
In the wake of the board's decision to create the group, Superintendent Kirsten Vital said she was "very hopeful" that it would draft a new tax that residents could support.
"It would be nice to see the issue settled, no matter what the outcome," Alameda resident Michael Eastoner, 54, said as he stood outside Peets coffee on Park Street Tuesday. "But at the same time I think we pay too much in taxes. And I question whether we are getting value for our money when you look at the state of public schools, and whether giving them more money is the answer."
Both sides in the lawsuit are set to return to court Dec. 17 to show if they are making progress toward resolving the case. The judge could set another trial date at that time if he thinks their efforts have stalled.