ALAMEDA -- Trustees with the Alameda Unified School District are set to consider setting aside $5.8 million to offset the potential liability the district faces following a state court of appeal decision that throws out parts of Measure H, the parcel tax that voters passed in 2008.

The money would come from the district's reserves and would be used to refund taxpayers if the state Supreme Court upholds the March 6 decision, which struck down the measure's rate structure and found only the flat $120 rate that residential owners paid was valid.

Trustees will consider setting aside the money when they meet Tuesday in the Alameda High School cafeteria, where they will also consider approving a tentative contract with the district's teachers.

The terms of the contract will be posted today.

George Borikas and other commercial property owners who sued the school district maintain Measure H was unfair because it taxed them differently than residential owners.

Owners of commercial properties of less than 2,000 feet were taxed at $120 annually under the measure -- the same as residential property owners. But those owning parcels more than 2,000 square feet were taxed at 15 cents a square foot, capped at $9,500 annually.

School officials estimate the district could be forced to pay back $7.4 million if the decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal stands.

On March 12, trustees voted 4-1 to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Trish Spencer cast the lone no vote.


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The case could have far reaching consequences for school districts throughout the state as similar lawsuits over parcel tax structures have been filed in Yolo, Contra Costa and Los Angeles counties.

In December, the school board of the Piedmont Unified School District held an emergency meeting to modify its proposed property tax -- changing it from a parcel tax to a flat tax -- to comply with the ruling handed down earlier that month in the Alameda case. Piedmont voters passed the tax earlier this month.

Alameda voters passed Measure H in June 2008. It expired three years later and was replaced by Measure A, which district officials say is not under legal threat.

Among those who joined Borikas in the lawsuit against the Alameda school district over Measure H was Ed Hirshberg, who owns the building that houses the Alameda Journal, a Media News publication.