On Election Day, the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District were successful in passing a unique tax that will benefit both the city and the school district. Measure Y, a half-cent sales tax passed at 61% (a simple majority was needed), which will generate an estimated $12 million per year. A companion measure, Measure YY also passed. This advisory measure recommends that half of the proceeds from the sales tax go to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD). Measure YY passed with 68% of the vote, again only needing a simple majority.
For the complete text of Measures Y and YY follow this link.
The City’s revenue measure consultant Larry Tramutola, President of TRAMUTOLA LLC, a consulting firm that advises public entities, proposed the city/school partnership. Tramutola, working with Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould, came up with this unique strategy after meeting with both city leaders and school district leaders. Both entities needed additional funds to replace money taken away by the State. Earlier in the year the SMMUSD failed to pass a parcel tax that required a 2/3 majority. Tramutola and Gould felt that if the schools and the city worked together they would do better than placing competing tax measures on the ballot.
The City, benefited by a well organized committed group of school volunteers who saw passage of Measures Y and YY as a win-win for their community. PTA leaders, parents and teachers joined the campaign. For the school district, this partnership lowered the threshold needed -ironically raising more money than the failed parcel tax would have generated.
For both the City and the School District, the combination of the measures allowed them to focus on the need rather than competing with each other for resources. The campaign slogan: “To protect our schools and safety,” appealed to broad elements of the community. The President of the Santa Monica Police Officers Association, the PTA Council President, a former chair of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the Co- Founder of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, and the AARP Tax Counseling for the Elderly District Coordinator all signed the argument in favor of Measure YY.
While not all cities and school districts could be successful with this strategy (Santa Monica in the past has generously supported local schools including giving over $8 million in 2010) the success of the measures show the importance of cooperation, longterm strategic thinking and smart politics.
If you would like more information on passing a revenue measure please call TRAMUTOLA at 510-658-7003.