TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — When residents head to the polls this November, they will vote on a tax increase to finance more than $170 million in local school campus and building improvements.
On Wednesday, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved placing two general obligation bonds — one for $114 million for the Truckee area, the other at $62 million for lakeside schools — on the Nov. 4 ballot.
“I don’t like the idea of asking people, voters, for money, so that’s kind of an initial bias, but I do have the responsibility — and we all do — to the students and our community to address the facility needs and do it objectively,” said TTUSD board member Gaylan Larson.
The estimated tax rate for the $114M bond is $48.25 per $100,000 of assessed property value for fiscal year 2015-16. The smaller bond would carry roughly $29.75 per $100,000 of assessed value.
Taxpayers would pay off the bonds over 33 years. Funds generated would go toward projects the district says are needed at campuses, including repairing plumbing and bathrooms, constructing and renovating classrooms, and updating technology to improve student learning.
The larger bond encompasses the town of Truckee, Soda Springs, Martis Valley/Northstar and small unincorporated sections of Placer and Nevada counties, while the other is for projects within the district’s lakeside boundaries, including Olympic Valley, Tahoe City, Kings Beach and Tahoma.
According to TTUSD, the state does not provide adequate funds for long-term maintenance and upgrades of school facilities, in part due to budget reductions since 2008 and a reduction in the state schools building program.
This leaves TTUSD few options to address facility needs, with locally generated funds being one.
Nancy Porges, a Glenshire homeowner, told the board at Wednesday’s special meeting she will fight “tooth and nail” against the use of general obligation bonds.
“... With the economy how it is, every time the economy takes a dump, you’re going to come back to us for more money at a time when we, too, are experiencing rough economic times,” she said.
For those focused on the bonds’ immediate impact to personal finance, TTUSD board clerk Randy Hill encourages a larger economic-picture approach.
“If one is going to think about the economics, don’t think about your wallet today — think about the value that you are going to gain from the economics of a phenomenal education system,” he said. “People look at structure, they look at buildings, they look at classrooms, they look at resources when they come here to live and bring their kids to put in the school system.
“The return on that investment will be over time substantial, and so I’d suggest to the economic naysayers that you think about the longterm benefit to you.”
The deadline to file pro and anti-measure statements is 5 p.m., Aug. 8, with rebuttals due Aug. 18, according to Placer County Elections Office.
To ensure funds are spent appropriately, a independent citizens’ oversight committee will be formed, according to TTUSD, and annual independent financial audits will occur until bond proceeds are spent.
To pass, the measures need 55 percent support in the general election from registered voters within TTUSD.
Meanwhile, TTUSD residents currently are paying $135 annually per parcel for Measure A, which funds enrichment programs for district students, including music programs, art programs and advanced placement courses.
Measure A, a parcel tax, was re-approved by voters March 2011, with the new funding cycle starting the 2012-13 school year through 2019.