My Turn: Picking yes on U | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Picking yes on U

Jim Smith
Glenshire resident

It took me some time to decide which way to vote on Measure U.

I generally do not vote in favor of nor support bond measures because I believe most of them are initiated only when some bureaucrat has failed in his duty to guard the public.

I have actively sought as much information as possible before deciding to vote for Measure U.

I read the unsolicited advertising I received from both sides of the measure and have considered the points of view of each in their recent editorials.

The pro-U faction argues that the improvements to our schools are sorely needed and will only benefit our local students.

The anti-U group argues that passage of U will do nothing to help students meet federal education standards and will only overburden the already empty pocket books of property owners.

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It seems to me, although I have no studies to cite, that children educated in modern facilities, like those envisioned by the proponents of Measure U can only help our community.

Our schools’ deteriorating infrastructure are in need of repair and replacement, which is apparent to anyone who has been to or by Truckee High or Elementary Schools lately. Our antiquated school buildings and classroom facilities create an unacceptable environment in which to teach and learn.

The money from Measure U will be used to address the problems caused by unsafe buildings and to make them more energy efficient which should reduce maintenance and energy costs at the facilities.

The funds are scheduled to be used to build a state-of-the-art library/ media center as well as a much-needed athletic complex.

In addition, Measure U funds will be used to build a modern vocational education facility for students who don’t plan to attend college.

The money will also replace the worn-out portable classrooms that currently house nearly 22 percent of the High School’s students.

Measure U looks to the future also.

The TTUSD web site indicates that a recent study has shown that, contrary to the information provided by the anti-U group, there is and will continue to be an increase in student enrollment in the district and thus a corresponding need for more classrooms.

To meet this need, there are plans to utilize Measure U funds to prepare the old middle school to serve elementary students when Truckee and Glenshire Elementary Schools become too crowded.

Yes, if passed, Measure U will increase your taxes. It will extend your current Measure C obligation for an additional 25 years until 2052. However, you will not pay any more than was already agreed to in 1999 when we passed Measure C.

For instance, if you own a $600,000 home your assessed value is probably about $350,000. At that value your tax bill for measure C is currently $133.

If Measure U passes that tax liability will rise to $168 per year. Hence, you are being asked to pay an additional $35 per year for modern safe comfortable schools to educate kids in your own community.

Not to over stress the obvious here, but that is less than $3 per month.

Give up one latte a month and you have money to spare.

Unlike many of our federal and state financial debacles of late, the School District has shown fiscal responsibility by managing the bond debt secured through the current Measure C.

The District has kept the tax rate to $36 per $100,000 of assessed valuation when it had the authority to go as high as $48. The Measure C money was used to bring about some of the changes and repairs previously needed by the District’s infrastructure, most notably, the new Alder Creek Middle School.

While the anti-U proponents are correct that if Measure U succeeds, property owners will pay more in taxes, they are incorrect in their belief that we can’t afford it.

We have to afford it.

Measure U will fund the upgrades needed to bring our local schools into the 21st century.

The longer we wait, the more we forestall the inevitable and the greater the cost will be in the future.

We are a small town and we pride ourselves on our small town values and quality of life.

Good schools are part of those values and they enhance the quality of life.

Our kids need decent classrooms and facilities to enrich their learning experience.

We owe them every opportunity to increase their chances of success when they enter the work-a-day world after finishing their education here at home.

Are we being asked to spend more money? Yes. But it is money that is being spent as needed in a fiscally responsible manner.