West Contra Costa Unified School District bond proposition, Measure E (November 2012)

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A West Contra Costa Unified School District bond proposition ballot question was on the November 6, 2012 ballot for voters in the West Contra Costa Unified School District in Contra Costa County, where it was approved.[1]

Measure E authorized West Contra Costa Unified School District to borrow $360 million on a 10-year repayment plan.

A parcel tax measure, authorizing the school district to extend its current parcel tax beyond the scheduled expiration of 2014, is also on the November 6, 2012 ballot for voters in the district.

Voters in the district rejected Measure K, which was on the June 5, 2012 ballot. Measure K would have increased the existing parcel tax from 7.2 cents to 10.2 cents a square foot and set its expiration in 2017, rather than 2014.[1]

A 55 percent supermajority vote was needed for approval.

Election results

Measure E
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 50,266 64.39%
No27,79435.61%
Final official results from the Contra Costa County elections office.

Opposition

The editorial board of the Contra Costa Times opposed Measure E. They wrote that it amounts to "an outrageous deception."[2]

Specifically, according to the newspaper:

"The official ballot information from County Counsel Sharon Anderson and district Superintendent Bruce Harter notes that would increase property tax rates. Anderson says it could be as much as $60 per $100,000 of assessed value; Harter estimates it will be $48 per $100,000.
They both should be ashamed. It's not what they tell you; it's what they leave out.
They don't mention that since 1998 voters have approved five other bond measures for construction.
During a 10-year period through 2009, no K-12 district in the state except much larger San Diego and Los Angeles had issued as many school construction bonds as West Contra Costa.
They don't tell you that district homeowners will soon be paying annual taxes of more than $240 for every $100,000 of assessed value to retire bonds already approved. Add in Measure E and the rate jumps to $290 in a few years.
They don't mention $797 million in bonds currently outstanding, or $357 million more already authorized by voters. Add it up and voters are potentially on the hook for $1.15 billion -- plus interest.
Anderson and Harter don't mention that the district projects repayment of the latest bonds will stretch through 2053, a 40-year commitment. Because of the long payoff, the interest costs will be higher than for any other East Bay district currently seeking voter bond approval.
Taxpayers will eventually pay back three dollars for every dollar borrowed. For comparison, the ratio for a homeowner taking out a typical mortgage in today's market would be less than 2-to-1."[2]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure E: "To make schools safe, complete essential health/safety repairs, qualify for State matching grants, shall West Contra Costa Unified School District upgrade schools for earthquake safety and handicap accessibility, remove asbestos, upgrade science labs, restrooms, vocational classrooms, technology and energy systems to reduce costs, install lighting and security systems, and acquire, repair, construct, equipment, sites and facilities, by issuing $360,000,000 in bonds within legal rates and bonding capacity limits with independent audits, citizen oversight, and no money for administrators’ salaries?"[3]

See also

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