My Turn: Vote yes to support our schools through Measure U
Why invest in Measure U? Because schools are a core foundation of thriving communities. Good schools attract full-time residents, who create the culture and social fabric of a community. Good schools create long-term increased property values. Good schools are a reason “locals” stay. Good schools are the reason our children are prepared for higher education and can compete in a global economy. Good schools are a reason that our younger generations “come home.” As a community, we all benefit from good schools.
Why invest in Measure U? Truckee High School is nearly 60 years old. It desperately needs modernization, structural shoring up and additional space for classrooms. The fields are in complete disrepair and virtually impossible to maintain.
Our vocational education programs require expansion. Many of our students are spending their day in 1985 portables that are in poor condition. Pick up, drop off and parking are safety issues for both the younger Truckee Elementary children, along with new drivers at the high school. We have significant structural issues that impact the viability of the high school building.
I’ve visited multiple high school classrooms where the teachers show me everything from dilapidated facilities to ventilation issues. Truckee Elementary is hugely below state play space requirements. The Old Sierra Mountain Middle School needs to become equipped to handle these students and serve as an elementary school.
It’s not going to get any cheaper to “wait” for the perfect moment to modernize our schools. Gas and oil prices impact construction costs. Five years ago a gallon of gas was less than $2 per gallon. Waiting just means this will cost us more ” a lot more.
Measure U delivers what our local voters said they would support ” and our community infrastructure needs.
So how much does Measure U cost? Beginning in 2009, we will pay $13 per $100,000 of assessed property value until 2025, for a total of $47 per $100,000 (“Measure C” plus “Measure U”). When “C” is paid off, “U” will move up to the 1999 approved amount of $48 per $100,000 until 2052.
Remember, Truckee voters approved up to $48 per $100,000 in 1999 for “C” and are only paying $34 per $100,000 today ” 35 percent less than projected ” due to good bond management and increased property values. There is an excellent possibility that “U” will be paid off early. The financial models are very conservative.
How about the “What does it mean to me?” If your home is assessed at the average of $442,693, Measure U will cost $57.55 per year. If you are at the median of $319,000, “U” will cost $41.47 per year. As a modest comparison, take a look at your monthly cable or satellite bill. I’ll bet one month’s bill is close to or even higher than what it costs us to deliver modern educational facilities to our Truckee students over the course of 12 months.
There’s a common misperception that the district brings in loads of money in “developer fees” and can afford to complete a High School modernization project without a bond. A “developer fee” is a fee that builders pay when they build a home. The fees are required to go toward issues that have a nexus to local growth ” new classrooms, portables, and field and parking expansion ” on a very small scale. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough money to initiate or complete large projects, such as a school re-modernization. Given our soft economy, “developer fees” have decreased significantly and continue to decline.
Now you may be thinking, “So why did Measure L lose in June?” That’s actually an easy answer. First, “L” only lost by 117 votes! “L” passed in Placer County and had the overall majority vote in Nevada County. The net net is that voter turnout was extremely low ” 435 of the voters who pledged to support “L” never showed up to the polls.
Measure U is a practical expense. Think long term. Become educated on the facts of this vital measure. Visit http://www.Uforschools.org for more information or contact me personally. Then, carefully consider the benefits of a solid academic environment and make your voting decision on Measure U on Nov. 4.
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