West Contra Costa Unified School District bond proposition, Measure D (June 2010)

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A West Contra Costa Unified School District bond proposition, Measure D ballot question was on the June 8, 2010 ballot for voters in the West Contra Costa Unified School District in Contra Costa County, where it was approved.[1]

Measure D authorizes a bond of $380 million.

It was anticipated that property owners in the district will have to pay about $48 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for the bonds to be paid off over a 30 year period.

Measure D was designed to provide funds in support of the Coronado Elementary School in Richmond and energy efficiency projects including solar panels, dual-paned windows, heating and air conditioning systems, drip irrigation, low-flush toilets and maintenance.

District residents were already paying about $60 per $100,000 in assessed valuation from Measure J, a bond approved in 2005. $100 million of Measure J bond proceeds has yet to be spent by the district. Voters in the district are also still paying taxes on bonds passed in 1998, 2000 and 2002. Altogether, voters have approved $785 million in bonds since 1998. Bond repayment schedules stretch out to 2048.

At the time that this measure was being decided, district residents also paid a $72/year parcel tax to support the school district and a surcharge of 7.2 cents per square foot, or $108 for a 1,500-square-foot home.

The owner of a house in the district with an assessed value of $500,000 paid $615 toward bond payments in the 2008-09 fiscal year. This would have increased to $955 by 2010-11 if voters had rejected Measure D. As Measure D was approved, annual property tax assessments to pay for school bonds rose to $1,195 in 2010-11. This is approximately twice what the owner of that home would have paid in 2008-2009.[2]

To pass, at least 55% of those voting in the election had to vote "yes".

Election results

Measure D
Approveda Yes 23,014 62.62%
These final, certified, results are from the Contra Costa County elections office.

Lack of disclosure alleged

Daniel Borenstein, a MediaNews columnist, said that even as the school district asked voters to approve another bond, it had failed to correctly disclose the costs of the previous bonds approved in the district.[2]

Borenstein wrote, "As West Contra Costa school officials push yet another school construction bond proposal, they need to come clean about how property tax rates are increasing far beyond expectations to cover payments for four previous voter-approved measures."

Bond repayments at the time of this election were costing the district more that the district had anticipated, because the district's estimates about future property tax assessments were based on the idea that the value of property in the district would increase at 6%/year. Instead, the value of property in the district has fallen.

Borenstein said, "The lower the tax base, the higher the rate the district must charge each homeowner to raise enough money to pay off the bonds." He expressed a certain amount of disbelief that the school district had failed to inform voters about these facts in the official materials it disseminated regarding Measure D.[2]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

MEASURE D: 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/handicap accessibility, remove asbestos, upgrade restrooms, vocational classrooms/technology/energy systems to reduce costs, install lighting and security systems, acquire, repair, construct, equipment/sites/facilities, by issuing $380,000,000 in bonds within legal rates and bonding capacity limits with independent audits, citizen oversight, and no money for administrators’ salaries?[3]

About the district

At the time of Measure D:

The West Contra Costa Unified School District had about 60 schools in it.

The West Contra Costa school district had issued more school construction bonds in the previous decade than any other K-12 school district in the state, excepting only San Diego and Los Angeles.[2]

The school district had to repay Chevron about $1.7 million in property taxes because the county tax assessor's office over-assessed Chevron's Richmond refinery.[4]

See also

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