Alameda voters rallied behind Measure A, giving the parcel tax that will benefit local schools the two-thirds majority it needed for victory.
The win Tuesday brought relief to parents, teachers and other Measure A supporters, who underscored during the campaign that deep cuts were inevitable -- including closing schools -- if voters rejected the tax. Votes in favor totaled 12,681, or 68.4 percent, while no votes totaled 5,934, or 31.6 percent, according to unofficial results from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.
"By supporting our schools, Alameda is not only supporting the success of our students, but we are also supporting the current and future success of our entire community," Superintendent Kirsten Vital said.
The Alameda Unified School District faced "devastation" if the ballot measure failed, Vital said.
Commercial and residential property owners will pay 32 cents per building square foot, with a cap, or maximum amount, of $7,999 under Measure A.
Owners of parcels without buildings will pay $299.
While Measure A supporters said the tax will help prevent cuts, critics maintained the tax is unfair because the cap will effectively allow an owner of a large building to pay less per square foot than an owner with a smaller building, if both owners qualify for the cap.
"This is a setback for the children of Alameda," said Leland Traiman, a leading Measure A opponent. "It will prolong the status quo and it will delay the implementation of the much-needed reforms that our president and our governor have called for."
Traiman did not rule out a lawsuit against Measure A over its structure. "I think that will happen," he said. "But an absolute, final decision has not been reached."
The new tax will begin July 1 and replace the district's two current parcel taxes, which were scheduled to end next year.
Measure A will generate $12 million annually over seven years.
"It's really not as much money as we need," said Alameda school district Trustee Trish Spencer, who noted that the district has recently lost about $800 in funding per student as a result of the state budget crisis.
"We needed the measure to pass," Spencer said. "Unfortunately, the reduction of money from the state over the past two years has put us in a financial bind. This money just goes to offset those costs."
The owner of a median 1,600 square-foot home will pay $512 annually under the new tax, according to district officials. Seniors can apply for an exemption.
The passage of Measure A comes after Alameda school leaders cut $7 million from the district budget this year. Without the tax, district officials were projecting an additional shortfall of at least $13 million between now and 2013.