Petaluma Joint Union High School District Bond Issue, Measure C (June 2014)

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A Petaluma Joint Union High School District Bond Issue, Measure C ballot question was on the June 3, 2014 election ballot for voters in the Petaluma Joint Union High School District in Sonoma and Marin counties, California, where it was approved.[1]

Measure C authorized the district to increase its debt by $68 million through issuing general obligation bonds in that amount in order to fund the improvement, renovation and repair of school facilities and technology.[2]

According to the superintendent of the district, Steve Bolman, the estimated property tax rate required to pay off these bonds amounts to an additional $29 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year. The district taxpayers paid property taxes at a rate of $36 per $100,000 of assessed valuation in 2014. The bonds authorized by Measure C were to be issued according to a timeline designed to give the district an estimated maximum property tax rate of $71.09 per $100,000 of assessed valuation in 2022, after which the rate would drop annually, as old bond debt was retired.[2][3]

A 55 percent supermajority vote was required for the approval of Measure C.

Election results

ApprovedaMeasure C
County: Yes No
Votes  % Votes  %
Marin County 54 58.06% 39 41.94%
Sonoma County 9,760 64.9% 5,273 35.1%
Totals: 9,814 64.88% 5,312 35.12%
Election results from County of Marin Elections Department & County of Sonoma Registrar of Voters

Election results summary:

Measure C
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 9,814 64.88%
No5,31235.12%

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 deteriorating plumbing and sewer systems; upgrade inadequate electrical systems; increase student access to 21st century technology; renovate P.E. fields and facilities for school and community use, and modernize/ renovate classrooms, restrooms and school facilities; shall the Petaluma Joint Union High School District issue $68,000,000 of bonds at legal rates, have an independent citizens' oversight committee and have no money used for administrative salaries? [4]

Impartial analysis

The following impartial analysis of Measure C was prepared by the offices of the county counsels of Marin and Sonoma County:[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 Joint Union High School District Board has called for an election and placed on the ballot the question of whether to issue bonds in the amount of $68 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 deteriorating plumbing and sewer systems; upgrading inadequate electrical systems; increasing student access to computers and technology; renovating P.E. fields and facilities for school and community use; and modernizing classrooms, restrooms, and school facilities. Additional bond projects may include constructing performance arts theaters and pools for school and community use; replacing temporary portables; upgrading fire alarm and security systems; increasing energy efficiency and access for those with disabilities; and removing hazardous materials. 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, 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 Requirements" 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 rates 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]

—Steven Woodside, Marin County Counsel, and Bruce Goldstein, Sonoma 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 Joint Union High School District (the "District") on June 3, 2014 to authorize the sale of $68,000,000 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 $.0290 per $100 ($29.00 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 $.0290 per $100 ($29.00 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 $.0290 per $100 ($29.00 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 C

Approval of Measure C does not guarantee that the proposed project or projects in the Petaluma Joint Union High School District that are the subject of bonds under Measure C will be funded beyond the local revenues generated by Measure C. 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 EducationCode §15122.5 [4]

—Steve Bolman, Superintendent of Petaluma Joint Union High School District[2]

Support

Supporters

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

  • Michael F. Tomasini, a community member
  • Elece Hempel, E.D., Petaluma People Services
  • Mike Baddeley, Clerk
  • Dr. Frank Chong, Ed.D Superintendent/President of SRJC
  • David Rabbitt, Sonoma County Supervisor

Arguments in favor

Official arguments

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

Our schools are the most important assets in our community and should be our number one priority. 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 Joint Union High School District are outdated and inadequate to provide students with the facilities they need to succeed. This is why our students need your Yes vote on Measure C! Although our high schools have been well maintained over the years, aging classrooms and facilities must be upgraded since many do not meet 21st century standards. Measure C would allow the District to improve our schools and the quality of education provided to local students. By investing in our schools, we can meet today's safety, technological, and educational standards and better our community.

If passed, Measure C will provide funding to make facility improvements at the Petaluma Joint High School District, including: repairing deteriorating plumbing and sewer systems; upgrading inadequate electrical systems; replacing outdated heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems; improving student access to computers and modern technology; and upgrading/renovating P.E. fields and facilities for school and community use.

Measure C 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. Also, funds can only be spent to improve our local schools, not for teacher or administrator salaries.

Measure C 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 C!

[4]

—Michael F. Tomasini, Elece Hempel, Mike Baddeley, Dr. Frank Chong and David Rabbitt[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 official arguments were submitted in opposition to Measure C. 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 C, 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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References