Hayward school trustees Annette Walker and
Lisa Brunner during a press conference last year.
Both voted to put a $88 parcel tax measure 
on the special election ballot this May.

A Hayward school parcel tax that has generated more than $11 million since its passage four years ago is due to sunset at the end of June. But the cost of renewing the parcel tax will be costly in itself.

Last month, the Hayward school board narrowly voted to approve a special election set for May 2 that will cost taxpayers $600,000 to administer. The election will by vote-by-mail only with ballots arriving in mailbox sometime around the beginning of April.

Local jurisdiction do not typically wait for renewing revenue ballot measures so close to their sunset date. But a number of high-profile tax measures already on the November 2016 ballot gave school district officials pause over the possibility voters would feel overly burdened, said Hayward school trustee Luis Reynoso. In addition, Hayward voters were asked to renew the city’s Utilities Users Tax in June 2016.

Reynoso also believes the issue was put on the back burner last year as the school district grappled administrative upheaval after a series of controversies leading to the naming of an interim superintendent.

Meanwhile, voters in Berkeley are also participating in a rare special election this year. A similar vote-by-mail ballot is already in the mailboxes of Berkeley residents in advance of their March 7 special election to elect a replacement on the City Council for the seat vacated by new Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

Berkeley’s district election, however, contains a much smaller pool of voters than the city-wide Hayward election and the cost the Alameda County Registrar of Voters is charging to administer the elction is less expensive, estimated to be $158,500.

The measure before Hayward voter in May asks for approval of an $88 annual parcel tax for the next 12 years, and is an increase in both the amount and years before its sunset in 2029.

Measure G, which Hayward voters passed in 2012 with 71 percent support, helped the school district add more classrooms, improved funding for library services and retained teachers, said Luci Rogers, the school district’s chief financial officer.

Among school board members, there was little disagreement over seeking a renewal of Measure G, only differing opinions on cost and length of the parcel tax. Hayward school trustees Luis Reynoso and William McGee advocated for simply renewing the existing parcel tax for another five years at the $58 annual rate. When that failed, a motion in favor of the staff recommendation was approved, 3-2.

In recent years, Hayward voters have been one of the most generous in the entire East Bay when it comes to taxing themselves, both at the city and school district levels. Polling received by the school district in early January bolstered this reputation with 75 percent of registered voters surveyed backing the parcel tax renewal. A two-thirds majority is needed to passage.

However,despite a consistent willingness to support tax measures in Hayward, an off-year special election poses some risks due to the inherent and historical lack of voter participation.