Election 2014: Discussing ins and outs of Measure E | SierraSun.com

Election 2014: Discussing ins and outs of Measure E

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Tax rate, allocation of funds and accountability for a bond measure proposed by the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District were among topics discussed at a Tuesday political forum in Tahoe City.

Measure E is a $62 million general obligation bond to finance school campus and building improvements on the lakeside that will be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

TTUSD estimates the maximum tax rate for the bond is $29.75 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Taxpayers would pay off the bond over 33 years.

To pass, the measure needs 55 percent support in the general election from registered voters within TTUSD.

A similar measure (Measure U) is proposed to finance improvements for the district's Truckee area schools, but lakeside voters will not vote on that measure.

Below is a sampling of comments from TTUSD board president Kim Szczurek, proponent of Measure E, presented in random order. No opponent was present at Tuesday's forum.

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On guaranteeing the $29.75 per $100,000 rate will not change …

Szczurek: "First of all, no. It can't be guaranteed. We've been very clear about that, but we worked very hard to be as conservative as possible in our estimates in arriving at that number. What we did was we looked at assessed value changes here on the lakeside over the last 20 years including the recessionary period, and we took that averaged assessed value and about halved it. … The second thing we did is we looked at interest rates, and again, we used interest rates up to 7.15 percent. If we sold the bonds today, it would be 3.5 percent. … So we have done everything we can to be responsible. …We want to under promise and over preform, and really be as conservative as possible in how we price these."

On how the district came up with $62 million …

Szczurek: "There was a very extensive public process that included pretty much anybody who wanted to participate. … There was what I would call a wish list created, and it was a whole lot more than $62 (million) for the lakeside. Then the board got together, and said, "We don't feel that we can ask for wishes. We're not in the position to ask for wishes. We need to pare this down to what we feel is really necessary to enhance the kids' education, addressing safety concerns that we have, etc.," so that pared down list became that $62 million list. Does it have to be that high? I suppose not, but we feel that it's really addressing those needs that we have here at the lake."

On what the $62 million will be spent on …

Szczurek: "As I said, we went through that prioritization process, and really what it came out to be was the preponderance of the $62 million will be spent on renovating Tahoe Lake Elementary and Kings Beach Elementary. There will be some fairly significant renovations there. The cool thing with Tahoe Lake is we're going to work really hard to keep those neat parts of Tahoe Lake. … There will be safety issues like the entrances to the schools addressed. There will be kindergarten classrooms that are appropriate for kindergartners to be in — that includes restrooms in the classrooms, a state requirement. There will be circulation for busing addressed in each of those schools. North Tahoe High School and North Tahoe School will also receive some monies, primarily we'll be enhancing the technology."

On accountability measures to ensure money is spent appropriately …

Szczurek: "First of all we put extra accountability right into the resolution, and we actually put brackets around the different types of expenditures. Subsequent to that there's two required audits — one is (on) how we spend the money and the other is are we following what we said we would spend the money on. And we propose a citizens oversight committee, so that would be right in there working with the board to make sure that we're spending the money the way we said we would. I will tell you there is some latitude within the resolution because right now we have rough ideas on these projects."