Endorsement: Yes on Measure A: Bond would help revitalize our community
A vigorous debate over Measure A, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s $87 million bond measure on Tuesday’s ballot, has been playing out on the Tribune’s Opinion page.
On one side are residents whose finances are being squeezed tighter and tighter by high gas prices, increased grocery costs and the general economic doldrums.
They argue that slapping property owners with an additional tax – estimated to be $38.70 per $100,000 of assessed property value per year – will only drive more residents away from an area that can little afford to lose more of its full-time population.
And yet not improving our schools, built for the most part between 1946 and 1975, also will drive away families and deter new families from moving to the area.
It’s a dilemma with seemingly no ideal solution, but we say let’s accept this small economic burden for badly needed improvements to our schools – and a chance at revitalizing our community.
If approved by 55 percent of voters, Measure A would raise $87 million to fund a list of projects for the school district. About half of single-family homes in the district have an assessed value of $199,000 or less, according to data gathered for the district. Those property owners would be taxed an expected $77.40 per year or less. That amount would, of course, go up if assessed values rise.
The tax is expected to last 35 years.
Measure A would allow the district to take advantage of $15.4 million in state matching funds that will be lost if the measure is not approved.
Admittedly, the measure might have been more palatable to voters if it only asked for the $15.4 million needed to receive the matching funds – rather than several times that amount.
Yet the district’s needs are many.
Measure A would fund projects ranging from basic improvements such as upgrading fire alarms and replacing portable classrooms with permanent structures to building a high-tech “green academy” at the high school teaching automotive and construction skills.
Measure A would come with financial safeguards built in. An annual independent audit would by required by law, and an oversight committee would monitor how the money is spent.
The committee would be appointed by the school board, so we don’t know whether its members would be good fiscal watchdogs or merely rubber stamp school board decisions. That’s where the public needs to come in. If Measure A passes, ongoing scrutiny of how the money is being spent will be needed.
No one likes paying more taxes. But Measure A, although not perfect, will give our children decent school facilities and our community a better chance at a thriving future.