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Beverly Hills to Decide on $2.5-Million Schools Tax

March 01, 1987|JOHN L. MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer

Beverly Hills voters will go to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots on Proposition K, a property-tax initiative that, if approved, will raise $2.5 million a year for the city's financially troubled school district.

The Yes on K Committee, which supports the tax, is predicting the measure will attract the two-thirds vote needed for passage.

"The outcome looks favorable," Judie Fenton, co-chairwoman of the Yes on K Committee said. "There is a unity in this community that has not been felt in many, many years. The only fear that we have right now is voter apathy."

The only organized opposition has come from the Committee to Save Beverly Hills From Itself, a group that claims to number 200 residents. Sherman A. Kulick, an attorney and spokesman for the opposition, said his group has pinned its hope of defeating the tax on the belief that voters are reluctant to tax themselves.

"Another tax never solves a problem," he said.

The tax would be used to help reduce a $3.5-million shortfall in the Beverly Hills Unified School District's $26-million budget. School officials have said that without the additional revenue, the district would be forced to make serious cuts, such as laying off 50 teachers or closing a school.

"I think that anyone willing to take the time to look at the issues and the numbers would realize that there is a need for a parcel tax," said Mark Egerman, school board president.

Proposition K would levy a flat fee of $270 a year for five years on each of the more than 9,000 parcels of property in the city. Under the tax, the owner of a condominium would pay the same $270 fee as the owner of a single-family house. Landlords would be prohibited from passing the tax on to their tenants.

The initiative states that the tax will be used to maintain small classes and to provide counselors, educational specialists, instructional equipment and supplies.

So far, the measure's proponents have the support of more than 1,200 residents who endorsed the proposition, the City Council, the Board of Education and the city Planning Commission. The parcel tax is also backed by the Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters and the Property and Homeowners Assn.

The Yes on K Committee plans to spend $40,000 to support the initiative, Fenton said. The group will hold a rally at 10 a.m. today at the Beverly Wilshire hotel where volunteers will urge voters to go to the polls and vote for the measure.

Sherman said that the Committee to Save Beverly Hills from Itself will continue to speak out against the measure until election day.

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