I would like to respond to Lee Sahagun's letter of Jan 12, "Taxes not a la carte."
The letter's overall tone fundamentally infers that seniors have no right to question their "responsibility" to pay for education bonds, along with the not so subliminal "benefits of taxation" message (isn't that an oxymoron?).
First of all, many seniors today experienced the trauma of World War II. Just to survive this event in our history is amazing. Lee, they saved this country and you owe these people. Instead of criticizing them for their position on bond issues, you should be thanking them that this country is still around; one that still permits all of us the option of saying either yes or no.
It wasn't too long ago that seniors, who worked their entire life, paid all the taxes asked of them and retired on fixed incomes, were losing their properties because state and local agencies literally taxed them out of their home. Enter Prop 13.
One of the major benefits of the 1978 tax measure was to limit property taxes to 1 percent of the sales price. But through the years, those same local agencies have circumvented Prop 13 protection by instituting assessment districts, introducing bond measures, plus other formulas that increased property taxes. In 2000, the state even got into the act by passing developer-backed Prop 39, which eliminated a 121-year property tax protection by lowering the voting percentage for educational bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent.
When we moved to the City of Brentwood 13 years ago, Liberty High School, located in Brentwood, was the only high school for the entire region. We did not move to Discovery Bay, Knightsen, Bethel Island or Byron. Yet, through the years, thousands have moved to these locations, by their own choice - they knew where the schools were located - they made their choice!
As a result of this "fastest growing community" phenomenon, during that 13-year period, the number of local/regional education bonds has increased to a total of six on my tax bill. Measure K, if passed, would have been the seventh, and the district plans another bond (the eighth) to build a fifth high school - both serve absolutely no benefit to Brentwood residents. When is enough? Why should I pay taxes for their lifestyle choice?
This is compounded by the fact that new senior homebuyers will pay anywhere from twice to three times the tax on educational bonds as existing homeowners. For example, Trilogy, which will open in the Brentwood hills this weekend, is designed for the 55-and-up crowd - no kids. A purchase price of their mid-range home ($600,000) will cost that homeowner, who has absolutely no impact on the school districts, twice the tax than a family who moved here 10 years ago and has three kids in the school system.
Lee, you can now see why people are questioning the tax burden. There is a big difference between general property taxes we all pay and how the state distributes that money versus voting on a specific tax measure with defined spending areas that present no real benefit to local homeowners.
Al Del Grande