The pressing topic in the halls of local, state and federal government these days is how to stretch limited revenues to cover fundamental responsibilities. The elected representatives who face this dilemma in the people’s name share a broad reluctance to increase constituents’ taxes.
In one arena, however, the constituents get to decide for themselves whether to pay higher taxes for a basic government service, namely education. When patrons of Central Valley and Mead school districts cast their ballots in the Feb. 8 special bond elections, they won’t have to look over their shoulders, worrying whether the people whose taxes are affected will approve of their decision. They are the people – the people who pay the bill, the people whose children attend the schools, the people whose community thrives or struggles as a result of the quality of those schools.
CV is asking voters for $69.6 million, which would generate an estimated $32.8 million in state matching money, leaving a cost to local property owners of approximately 65 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value – $97.50 a year for a $150,000 home.
The money would build a new elementary school at Mission and Long and would provide modernization for three existing elementary schools and Evergreen Middle School, which range in age from 32 to 43 years.
Mead wants $49 million, which would generate about $31.8 million in state matching. Modernization work at Midway and Shiloh Hills elementary schools and Northwood Middle School would consume nearly three-fourths of the money, with a variety of other capital needs – from handicapped accessibility improvements to technology needs – targeted for the rest.
The measure would cost Mead taxpayers $2.20 per $1,000 of valuation, or $330 for a $150,000 home, but they would see no difference in their tax bill because previous bonds are being retired.
Capital facilities plans for school districts and similar organizations are complex, and the priorities they set are certain to find more favor with some than others. Nitpicking is easy, but there’s no ignoring the wear and tear produced by hundreds of pairs of feet coming and going daily, doors opened and closed, toilets flushed, heating and cooling plants cycled on and off – for decades. Not to mention the demands brought about by population growth and technological advancement.
Mead and CV both conducted extensive public input exercises to assure consensus around their proposals. Both have posted detailed explanations on their websites (www.mead354.org and www.cvsd.org).
Now it’s up to the citizens, who are not only the decision makers but also the true stakeholders. Most of them moved into, or grew up in, these districts and found the school systems in place and ready to serve their needs, thanks to previous generations. Future generations will have the same experience if today’s voters accept responsibility for the necessary upkeep addressed in Mead’s and CV’s pending bond issues.