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First Steps Taken on Beverly Hills School Tax

September 11, 1986|JOHN L. MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer

Beverly Hills school officials have set in motion a plan to ask voters to approve a special property tax to bail out the city's financially troubled school district.

Supt. Leon Lessinger said a final decision on whether to hold the special tax referendum has not been made, but because referendums take months to plan, the Board of Education must begin preparations now to keep its options open.

The special tax would be placed on each of the nearly 10,000 parcels of property in the city. The exact amount of the tax has not been determined.

The board's decision to consider the tax comes only a week after it approved a $26-million 1986-87 school budget that was balanced with the help of $2.2 million from the city. The district has faced an annual shortfall of $2 million which has been paid for out of its dwindling reserves.

School officials say publicly that they are pursuing a parcel tax as one of several options aimed at raising money. Privately they admit that there are few other alternatives.

Next year, even with a $2.2-million contribution from the city, the school district will face an additional $2-million to $5-million shortfall, school officials said.

For that reason, a tax increase has been suggested as a means of closing the gap. However, two-thirds of the registered voters of Beverly Hills must approve it.

"It is not a very popular item but I think it will become increasingly important," Lessinger said before presenting the board Tuesday with a sample resolution and a timetable of requirements that must be fulfilled before the measure is placed on the ballot.

Lessinger said the school district appreciates the city's efforts, but added that the city's contribution should not "lull us into a false sense of security. . . . The fact of the matter is we have got to look at more basic regular funding."

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