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San Mateo

In San Mateo County, a total of $155,397,830 was taken out of school-allocated property taxes to pay State obligations in 2010-2011.  $122,422,400 was redirected to satisfy the State's VLF backfill obligation. $32,975,430 was redirected to pay for the State's 2004 Economic Recovery Bonds.  This grew to $157,892,449 in 2011-12.


San Mateo County schools did not receive $32,981,801 of their state funding until after the 2010-11 school year was over.  The delayed payments grew to $62,817,365 for the 2011-12 school year, before declining (thanks to Prop 30) to $32,009,245 this past summer.  For this June (2014), the First Principal Apportionment has already detailed $24,917,097 of deferrals, with approximately 50% more expected in the Second Principal Apportionment later in the school year. 


Of the money taken from all local school-allotted property tax, $118,113,349 was taken from the K-12 schools’ base property tax allocation, after all the county’s Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund had been emptied.  This represents ALL the base property tax allocation from the eight most poorly funded districts in San Mateo County.


Because no property tax can be taken from "excess tax" districts like Woodside, Menlo Park, Hillsborough, Las Lomitas and Portola Valley, all property tax has been taken from Ravenswood (East Palo Alto and Menlo Park), Ravenswood, and Jefferson (Daly City) Elementary districts.  This has left them 100% dependent on state aid ... and 100% subject to the state's deferrals of that aid. 


Was this necessary?  No.  Why should San Mateo County's least advantaged districts have to swallow the cost of funding the state's unrelated obligations?!


Sources:  For deferrals, see the Funding Excel Files - Second Principal Apportionment from the California Dept. of Education; for “negative ERAF” -- monies taken from base school allocations, see from the CA Dept. of Education.  Source: State Controller's Office, Local Government Reporting Section. (City and county detail shown in the reports, totals upon request from the SCO.)


Insufficient ERAF: San Mateo County.

Property tax collections in the county totaled $1.4 billion—of which $187 million was deposited to ERAF [the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund].  In total, the county’s K-12 and community college districts needed $38 million from ERAF to meet their guaranteed funding levels, leaving $149 million to distribute to county special education programs ($18 million) and to cities, counties, and special districts as excess ERAF ($131 million).  Following these distributions, $38 million remained in ERAF to fund the triple flip and VLF swap. These funds were used first to pay triple flip reimbursements totaling $32 million.  The remaining $6 million was applied to a VLF swap obligation of $125 million—resulting in a shortfall of $119 million. To cover this funding shortfall, San Mateo’s auditor shifted property taxes from nonbasic aid K-12 and community college districts. Because many K-12 and community college districts in San Mateo are basic aid, however, the amount of K-12 and community college district property taxes available to be shifted was slightly lower ($200,000) than the $119 million needed to reimburse city and county for the VLF swap. Thus, San Mateo County experienced $200,000 of insufficient ERAF.

Translation:  After the county took every penny of the available Educational Revenue Augmentation fund, and every penny of property taxes from San Mateo County's eight least-advantaged districts, it still came up $200,000 short.  (Your confusion is understandable.  The issue identified is not that San Mateo County schools lost $157,000,000 of stable, reliable property tax -- but that the Legislature needed to consider how to reimburse cities and counties their last $200K.)

 Whether you received a pretty pie chart in the mail with your property tax bill ... or found one online at the San Mateo County Controller's website, the information shown is only correct if you live in the "Haves" half of the county. If you live in the 'Have-Nots" half, only 21% of your property taxes actually get to go to your schools (and then only because the high-school and community college districts are basic aid). Overall, the number that should be shown is 34% -- one San Mateo County property tax dollar in three -- goes to local education.

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