"You may fool all of the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all..."
Yeah, I am sure you all know the rest of Abe Lincoln's quote.
Would you be surprised if I said some local politicians may be trying to fool us again?
That's what I thought.
My absentee voter ballot came a few days ago in the mail. Along with it, I received a few mailed pieces for Prop C, the school bond. The mailers promise that Prop C will NOT increase my existing tax rate. It simply extends the current rate for an additional 11 years. So they say.
I did not get a copy of Prop C with my voter ballot. So I headed on over to the San Diego County registrar's official site to take a look at what Prop C is all about. According to the impartial analysis of the county counsel, if 55% of the voters pass Prop C, we have authorized the SFID (School Facilities Improvement District) of PUSD to issue and sell up to $179 million in general obligation bonds. They can sell them for up to 12 % interest and they have to be paid back in 25 yrs (if issued pursuant to the Education Code) or 4o yrs (if issued pursuant to the Government Code).
Prop C doesn't extend Prop U for an additional 11 yrs. It is a totally new, separate bond approval. And there is no guarantee that the current tax rate won't go up. In fact, it likely will go up. The current rate is $45/$100K of assessed valuation. But the SFID (more about the SFID downthread) hasn't issued all of the bonds already approved under Prop U. (I know they said they ran out of money, but that is not exactly true.) When they issue more bonds (probably later this year) the tax rate will probably jump to $55/$100K. That was the estimated maximum tax rate on Prop U. Likewise it is the estimated maximum tax rate on Prop C.
That's an estimation, not a guarantee. It is an estimation based on expected increases in assessed valuation in the SFID. So, if there was a disaster that destroyed a lot of highly assessed property (e.g. a big fire) or if there was a big real estate bust and some folks in the SFIP had their property tax reassessed downward, then it might cost the rest of us more to pay back the bonds. To be fair, Prop C does say it is the intent of the district to keep the rate stable. But if they can't and we have approved the bonds, we are stuck paying the higher rate.
One of my chief objections to Prop C is that all of us in PUSD are not in this together. The SFID excludes any PUSD area property that is in a Mello Roos district. The people who own homes in a Mello Roos district pay special fees to finance the schools that were built in their developments. That money can only go toward those schools.
The SFID is like a Mello Roos for the old timers in PUSD- with a couple of differences. Mello Roos districts usually last 20-25 yrs. Prop C could go for 25-40 yrs after the last bond is issued and we old timers could be paying them off long after the Mello Roosers have finished. And while the Mello Roos fees can only go to new schools in those areas, Prop U & C can pay for improvements at any school in the district, new or leased district offices and new or improved support facilities. Why shouldn't everyone pay for the new district offices?
I plan to write a second part to this blog and include a little information on who it is that is pushing this proposition and what they have to gain from it. But before I sign off, I'd like to call your attention to the picture at the top of the blog. Those are some of the portable classrooms at Valley School. There is nothing in Prop C (or Prop U) that says PUSD plans to get rid of those portables if you approve the bond. At best, the district says they plan to replace any portables that are older than 25 yrs. My kids went to Valley School in the 70s and 80s. They had real classrooms. Now, as a consequence of steps taken to wipe out blight, the Poway Redevelopment Agency has added a lot of students to Valley School. There are rows of these blighty looking portables on the south side of the campus. We have passed several school bonds since my kids went to Valley, and yet, the number of portables there just keeps growing.