Petaluma City School District Bond Issue, Measure E (June 2014)

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A Petaluma City School District Bond Issue, Measure E ballot question was on the June 3, 2014 election ballot for voters in the Petaluma City Elementary School District in Sonoma County, California, where it was approved.[1]

Measure E authorized the district to increase its debt by $21 million through issuing general obligation bonds in that amount in order to fund renovations, repairs, maintenance, construction, upgrades and other improvements to district facilities.[2]

The bonds were intended to be retired within 30 years and cost taxpayers an estimated $20 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year in additional taxes. In 2014, the district property taxpayers were charged at a total rate of $50.5 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year. The bonds issued by Measure E were timed to give taxpayers a maximum property tax rate of $66.45 per $100,000 in 2016, and the rate were to decrease annually after this year as previous bond debt was repaid.[3]

A 55% supermajority vote was required for the approval of Measure E.

Election results

Measure E
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 4,652 68.3%
No2,16131.7%
Election results from County of Sonoma Registrar of Voters

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:[2]

To improve the quality of education with funding that cannot be taken by the State; repair or replace leaky roofs; upgrade inadequate electrical systems; improve student access to computers and modern technology; and modernize or renovate classrooms, restrooms and school facilities; shall the Petaluma City (Elementary) School District issue $21,000,000 of bonds at legal interest rates, have an independent citizens' oversight committee and have no money used for administrative or teacher salaries with all funds being spent locally? [4]

Impartial analysis

The following impartial analysis of Measure E was prepared by the office of the county counsel:[2]

The California Constitution allows school districts to borrow money by issuing bonds to pay for construction, repair, replacement, and acquisition of school facilities if 55 percent of the voters who vote on the measure approve the sale of the bonds. The Petaluma City Elementary School District Board has called for an election and placed on the ballot the question of whether to issue bonds in the amount of $21 million for construction, upgrades, and improvements at a number of District school sites.

Money raised by bond sales can be used for the purposes and projects stated in the Bond Project List set forth in the Measure. Projects include repairing and replacing leaky roofs; upgrading electrical systems; improving access to computers and technology; and modernizing classrooms, restrooms, and school facilities. Additional bond projects may include repairing and replacing plumbing systems; constructing and improving P.E. fields and facilities for school and community use; upgrading fire alarm and security systems; increasing energy efficiency and access for those with disabilities; and repairing and upgrading existing facilities. As required by state law, the measure prohibits using bond proceeds for teacher or administrator salaries or other operating expenses.

The inclusion of a project on the Bond Project List is not a guarantee that the project will be funded or completed. The District's Board will establish the priority and order in which projects will be completed.

If the Measure is adopted, the District's Board will conduct annual, independent financial and performance audits to ensure that bond proceeds have been expended only on the projects on the Bond Project List. In addition, an Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee will be established within sixty days of the report of election results to the Board. The proceeds of the bonds will be maintained in a separate account in the County Treasury, and the Board must receive an annual report on the status of projects undertaken and the amount of bond proceeds received and expended in that year. These requirements are set out as "Accountability Measures" in the Measure.

If the Measure is approved, the District expects to sell the bonds in series over time. The funds to repay the bonds would be raised by an increase in property taxes based upon the value of land and improvements in the District. The interest rate on the bonds would depend on the market rate at the time the bonds are sold, but cannot exceed the rate set by state law. The Tax Rate Statement prepared by the District Superintendent, which follows this analysis, estimates the property tax levies required to pay off the bonds. The estimated tax levies are a projection, and could go up or down, depending on a number of factors including the timing and amount of bond sales, and changes in assessed value of property in the District. [4]

—Jeffrey M. Brax, Deputy County Counsel[2]

Fiscal analysis

The following tax statement was provided by Steve Bolman, superintendent of Petaluma Joint Union High School District:[2]

An election will be held in the Petaluma City (Elementary) School District (the "District") on June 3, 2014 to authorize the sale of $21,000,000 in general obligation bonds. The following information is submitted in compliance with Sections 9400-9404 of the California Elections Code.

The best estimate of the tax rate that would be required to fund this bond issue during the first fiscal year after the sale of the first series of bonds, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $.0200 per $100 ($20.00 per $100,000) of assessed valuation in fiscal year 2014-15.

The best estimate of the tax rate that would be required to fund this bond issue during the first fiscal year after the sale of the last series of bonds, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $.0200 per $100 ($20.00 per $100,000) of assessed valuation in fiscal year 2019-20.

The best estimate of the highest tax rate that would be required to fund this bond issue, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing this statement, is $.0200 per $100 ($20.00 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.

These estimates are based on projections derived from information obtained from official sources. The actual tax rates and the years in which they will apply may vary depending on the timing of bond sales, the amount of bonds sold at each sale and actual increases in assessed valuations. The timing of the bond sales and the amount of bonds sold at any given time will be determined by the needs of the District. Actual assessed valuations will depend upon the amount and value of taxable property within the District as determined in the assessment and the equalization process.

REQUIRED STATEMENT REGARDING STATE MATCHING FUNDS MEASURE E

Approval of Measure E does not guarantee that the proposed project or projects in the Petaluma City (Elementary) School District that are the subject of bonds under Measure E will be funded beyond the local revenues generated by Measure E. The District's proposal for the project or projects assumes the receipt of matching state funds, which could be subject to appropriation by the Legislature or approval of a statewide bond measure. California Education Code §15122.5 [4]

—Steve Bolman, superintendent of Petaluma City Elementary School District[2]

Support

Supporters

The following individuals signed the official arguments in favor of Measure E:[2]

  • Troy Sanderson
  • Mary Beth Benedetti, parent
  • Scott Prichard, business owner
  • Clark P. Rosen, real estate broker
  • Janet Ramatici, former E.D., Petaluma Education Foundation

Arguments in favor

Official arguments

The following was submitted as the official argument in favor of Measure E:[2]

Everyone knows the importance and value of having quality schools. From higher achieving students, to greater neighborhood safety and improved property values, quality schools make a difference. While our teachers and staff do a great job in educating our children, many classrooms and school facilities at the Petaluma City Elementary School District are outdated and inadequate to provide students with the facilities they need to succeed. This is why our children need your Yes vote on Measure E! It's been over 20 years since our district has passed a bond. While schools have been well maintained, aging classrooms must again be upgraded since many do not meet 21st century education and technology standards. A local school improvement measure would allow the District to improve the quality of education provided to local children. Therefore, we must invest in our schools so they meet today's safety, technological, and educational standards.

If passed, Measure E will provide funding to make facility improvements at the local Petaluma schools, including: repairing/replacing leaky roofs; repairing deteriorating plumbing and sewer systems; upgrading inadequate electrical systems; improving student access to computers and modern technology; and modernizing/renovating classrooms, restrooms and school facilities.

Measure E makes financial sense and protects taxpayers. All funds must be spent locally and cannot be taken by the State. By law, spending must be reviewed and annually audited by an independent citizens' oversight committee. Funds can only be spent to improve our local elementary schools, not for teacher or administrator salaries.

Measure E upgrades and renovates old and inadequate school facilities, improves the education of local children, and maintains the quality of our community. That's something we can all support. Please join us and Vote Yes On Measure E! [4]

—Troy Sanderson, Mary Beth Benedetti, Scott Prichard, Clark P. Rosen and Janet Ramatici[2]

Editorials

Much of the money from both measures is needed for basic infrastructure improvements, like repairing leaky roofs, upgrading deteriorating plumbing and sewer systems, and replacing inadequate electrical systems and outdated telecommunications, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. All schools must periodically upgrade their facilities, and Petaluma schools are in need of such upgrades now.

Recreational facilities are also in need of repair. Examples include Petaluma High’s swimming pool, which is leaking 1,000 gallons of water every day, and Casa Grande High School’s track which is a rutted mess, rendering it impossible to host track meets. Casa is the only large public high school in Sonoma County without a synthetic track.

But perhaps the most troubling shortcomings of Petaluma’s schools are the classrooms and technology which, in 2014, look an awful lot like they did back in 1994. Portable classrooms manufactured in the 1980s need to be replaced with permanent classrooms. Sufficient wireless bandwidth does not exist on many campuses, and most students do not have access to portable computer devices, such as digital tablets, which are standard issue in many other school districts in the U.S. and abroad. Expecting young people to learn and then thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace without adequate technology is both impractical and short-sighted. [4]

—The Argus-Courier editorial board[5]

The editorial concluded by saying:

Petaluma’s children of today will be leading businesses and government agencies in years to come. Ensuring they have the tools to excel and compete in future jobs is vital to maintain and enhance the general community and its economy.

Petaluma children learn best in safe, modern school facilities with the necessary tools to succeed. It’s time they got them.

We encourage a yes vote on Measures C and E. [4]

—The Argus-Courier editorial board[5]

Opposition

No officials arguments were submitted in opposition to Measure E. If you have an argument that you would like to see posted here, please email the Local Ballot Measures Project staff writer.

Dan Drummond, executive director of the Sonoma County Taxpayers' Association, which was an expected, possible opponent of Measure E, announced that, after a meeting with school officials, the Association had decided to take a neutral position on the bond measure.[3]

Polls

A survey conducted by Isom Advisors showed a majority of voters in both the Petaluma High School District and the Petaluma Elementary School District supported a bond measure. Greg Isom of Isom Advisors said to the board of directors in his report on the survey, “The voters like you. They like the projects. We recommend putting a measure on the June ballot."[6]

See also

External links

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