How does the State’s diversion of school property taxes affect SACRAMENTO?
Over $230 million of school-allocated property taxes are taken out of Sacramento County each year to satisfy the State’s obligations.
Sacramento County allocates about 23% of its property tax directly to schools, which is less than the state average, so its Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund is proportionately larger than most counties' at about 27%. The county assessor's 2012 annual report shows, as so many do, the total amount going to schools, 49.6%. This is incorrect. The auditor-controller's ERAF worksheets (also online), show $258 million transferred into ERAF for both the schools and community colleges, and $186 million head out again for the VLF Swap, plus $43 million for the Triple Flip, so only $29 million actually remains to be distributed to the schools. So 26% would be the right percentage for the assessor to show.
As a result of these outflows, Sacramento County schools are extremely dependent upon the State's disbursements, and vulnerable to its deferrals. Sacramento Unified, for example, finished last school year with 36% of its annual state aid ($60 million) still unpaid -- appalling, but an improvement over the June before last, when almost half of its state aid hadn't been disbursed when the school year ended ($80 million). Particularly frustrating is the fact that almost 18% of total ERAF would have gone to Sacramento Unified -- $46 million of the amounts above that it shouldn't have had to wait for.
In Sacramento County generally, it's also evident how the increased dependence on state aid vs. local property tax punishes poorer districts.
River Delta Unified, Galt Union High, and Robla Elementary have about 2,000 students each.
River Delta has higher property taxes (it is still revenue limit, but may be tipping over), so it was waiting for less than $100,000 from the state at the end of last year.
Robla was waiting for almost $2,000,000, and Galt for $2,600,000.
Yet looking at their 2021 LCFF targets, Robla (96% LI/EL) needs $12,000 to educate each child; Galt (55%) $11,100; and River Delta (58%) $10,400.
So the school that needs the least gets the most … while the others add the challenge of cash management to their educational hurdles.
In a year when budgets had already been dramatically cut, these cash flow shortfalls harmed the school districts and schoolchildren of Sacramento County even more.
It’s time to grant Sacramento County schools and community colleges the same protection of their stable, reliable, local property taxes that cities, the county, and special districts (mosquito abatement, lighting, flood, libraries, parks, hospitals) have enjoyed for a decade.
ERAF worksheets are at the bottom of the page:
Assessor's Annual report is linked below her picture at: