District says it would cost average homeowner $24 per year.Money is needed for repair, upgades at school sites
Westside area voters will have something else on their June 5 general election ballot besides candidates.
The Taft City School District Board of Education Wednesday night approved a resolution asking voters to approve a $23.6 million bond for repair, upgrades and modernization on its six campuses.
The vote was unanimous and came after a lengthy discussion and question/answer session that featured consultant Jon Isom and Kern Taxpayers Association president Mike Turnipseed.
Isom’s consulting firm is guiding the district through a bond election process that was revised when the state’s voters approved Prop. 39 in November 2000.
Prop. 39 has five key elements, Isom said.
For property owners, it caps the property tax rate at $30 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, meaning the average homeowner will pay about $24 a year.
Citizen oversight is another requirement.
“It creates a citizen’s oversight committee to ensure that the monies are spent in the way they were intended to,” he said.
The district governing board will select a seven-member committee to represent various stakeholders, including parents, senior citizens and representatives of tax watchdog groups such as the Kern Taxpayers Assn.
Taft College has such a committee keeping an eye on how its $38.9 million bond is being spent.
Other requirements include annual performance and financial audits, detailed project lists and holding the bond election during regularly scheduled elections rather than a special election.
Turnipseed said his board of directors will decide next Tuesday whether it will support the Taft bond election.
He had some questions about principal and interest and tax rates on the proposed bond compared to the $20 million local voters approved in 2001.
Isom explained the new bond issue is a capital appreciation bond that has “less risk for the investor.”
In response to a question from trustee Les Clark Jr., Isom assured the board it has plenty of flexibility in managing bond projects.
“I don’t want to mislead the public in any way,” Clark said.
He said the district needs the revenue the bond generates to provide much-needed repairs and upgrades to the district’s six campuses.
“As I travel around the state and see what other school districts have, I see their facilities put ours to shame,” he said.
Broken down by school, project allocations look like this:
Lincoln Junior High $17 million
Jefferson $3.5 million
Taft Primary $723,000
Roosevelt $1.4 million
Conley $3.7 million
District facilities would get $430,000 in upgrades.
Lincoln gets the most attention since it was bypassed in the last bond issue.
Projects are broken down into four categories: modernization ($10.5 million), new construction ($5.6 million), health and safety ($5.8 million) and technology ($607,000).