With much attention focused on the June 3 election, it would be easy for voters in four East Bay communities to overlook earlier elections for which they should mail in ballots this week.
Residents of Acalanes, Lafayette and Dublin school districts and in West Contra Costa County face parcel-tax measures, each requiring two-thirds approval. These elections are being conducted by mail; ballots must be received at the elections offices by 8 p.m. May 6. Postmarks don't count.
Here are our recommendations:
West Contra Costa Health Care District -- No on Measure C. This huge tax would purportedly keep Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo financially afloat. But, actually, it won't be enough to save the hospital.
Measure C would more than triple the current charge for the typical homeowner, bringing the total for a 1,500-square-foot home to $309 a year. It would be a permanent tax that would remain in effect even if the facility is acquired by another health care system, and would end only if the hospital and emergency room close.
Dublin school district -- Yes on Measure B. This would extend until 2019 a $96-per-parcel tax to help supplement funds for district operations. The amount and time period are reasonable. Parcel taxes should be subjected to periodic voter review to adjust for changing economic conditions and shifts in state school funding formulas.
Acalanes and Lafayette school districts -- No on Measures A and B. Unlike in Dublin, the Acalanes and Lafayette measures would turn temporary parcel taxes into permanent levies.
The Acalanes measure would lock in an annual $112-per-parcel tax now expiring in 2015. That would be on top of an already permanent $189 tax, for a total of $301 per year.
The Lafayette measure would combine two taxes, totaling $539 annually, now expiring in 2015. Measure B would not only make the combined levy permanent, but also build in inflation adjustments up to 3 percent a year, enshrining an ever-increasing tax.
While asking voters to trust them with a permanent tax, both districts are irresponsibly failing to make even minimum required contributions to their retiree health plans, meaning the unfunded liability, already millions of dollars, continues to grow.
Voters in the four districts should not postpone mailing in ballots. Those who lost them should promptly contact their county elections office.
For last-minute voters, Contra Costa residents can find information about where to drop off ballots on May 6 at www.cocovote.us. (Use the "Current Election" button at the top of the page.) Dublin residents can drop off ballots from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the City Clerk's Office, 100 Civic Plaza, Dublin.