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Pleasanton's city, schools leaders gather to talk bond measure, library

District could seek $312 million bond at cost to property owners of taxpayers $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation

Pleasanton's school board and city council convened for their annual joint meeting Monday night to discuss the district's potential facilities bond measure, among other topics of common interest.

On the schools side, the district provided a presentation on its facility needs, leading into a discussion about a community survey regarding a potential local bond measure.

The district is looking at proposing a district-wide bond measure as early as November to pay for renovations and technology upgrades at schools. If an upcoming local demographics report indicates the district is in need of a new school, some of the bond could be dedicated for that need, interim superintendent Jim Hansen said.

He said a poll is underway to evaluate community support and what bond residents would support. However, he said his best estimate at this point would be a $312 million bond at a cost of $60 per $100,000 assessed property valuation.

School board president Jamie Hintzke said voters would see a list of specific projects and dollar amounts for each project when they vote, but the district has not created the final project list at this point.

School board member Mark Miller said many of Pleasanton's schools have long been need of upgrades, but those projects were put on hold after the recession.

"They're showing their age in many ways, so I think we really need to do this," he said.

Mayor Jerry Thorne and other members of the city council urged caution about this bond measure on the November ballot, given the fact the ballot is expected to have a high number of tax-based measures.

"I always worry that if someone sees lots of bond measures and tax measures on a ballot that they'll just say no to everything," Thorne said.

The meeting also covered an overview of the city's Civic Center Library Master Plan so far, including suggested layouts of a combined center and library facility, a review of a market analysis for ways to use the existing Civic Center site and projections of future library patrons' needs.

City Manager Nelson Fialho said Pleasanton has the smallest library of Alameda County's cities but has the highest visitation rate per capita.

City officials provided an update about a joint plan to renovate Amador Valley High's traffic pattern. The city council and school board discussed the plan's budget and proposed design, which includes adding a sidewalk, adding a traffic signal on Santa Rita Road and adjusting the student parking lot slightly.

The city noted that while construction starts May 9, the contractor for this project has agreed not to work during Amador Valley's finals, so students won't be distracted by the noise. Construction is expected to end Aug. 2.

Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Kim
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 15, 2016 at 10:41 am

$60/$100K for the proposed bond would be on top of the $24/$100K we are still paying from the last school bond. Would like to see details on how the old bond was spent, how much longer we pay for that one and how long we would pay for the new one.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 15, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

A $312 million bond won't all be issued all at once, so there are variables. The projected tax rate for the outstanding bonds drops to about $20/$100,000 this year and to less than $10 for 2022 and 2023. Micaela Ochoa, Business Services, has more information than I do and is very open and approachable.


6 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 15, 2016 at 2:14 pm

The lying has started. They said $33 dollars in the phone and now $60. Vote no!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Depended on your answers Pete. They are testing for two levels of tax. There was no lying.


5 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 15, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Kathleen,

Sure they lied. I said $33 is the tops and their answer was yes. I call that lying.


14 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 15, 2016 at 6:51 pm

res1 is a registered user.

$312 million bond? Sounds like they are going to tear down every school and rebuild.

The things to watch out for are:
1) We are already paying for existing bonds so this will be on top of those. Yes those are winding down but do not end until 2023.
2) My guess is they are using today's interest rate for the expected cost on the property tax. When interest rates go up, so will our property taxes and there is nothing you can do about it. You would be authorizing the maximum amount of bonds to be issued, not the yearly assessment cost. Our bond rating could also go down, costing us a higher interest rate. For example, when the ratings agency look at our underfunded liabilities, our rating can go down.
3) Concerned on long term financing of technology infrastructure. Don't want to see us having to pay off a loan for technology upgrades for 30 years while the life of those upgrades are 10-15 years. Not sure if there is a way to prevent the district from financing anything where the payoff is longer than the useful life of the capital project.
4) We need to know if any of this bond money will be used to mitigate for additional homes, which should be paying the fees to mitigate their impacts on the district. Many of us have already paid real high developer fees for our new homes (within the last 20 years?) to mitigate our impact. The new homes should not be getting away without having to do that and making us pay for the new development
5) Does the district have a plan to pay for the greatly increased retirement plans coming up shortly plus other retirement benefits (post retirement medical)? If the property owners feel taxed out with a bond, they will not approve a parcel tax later which can pay for operations. We need to have a total plan for the district. The district should not be going to the maximum amount for a bond, knowing we will later need a parcel tax.
6) Has the district looked at all their assets to make sure they are being used? The Neal school site is not being used. How much money will we get for selling off a site that we all know will never be used? What other pieces of land does the district have that are not being used? If the city is looking at redoing some of city hall, can we have a joint project for some of the administration? Perhaps the motor pool maintenance, graphics departments, and even some accounting services be joint services with the district and the city to save money (both facilities and operations).


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 15, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, it was a scripted survey. Because it is possible someone misspoke, I've asked district staff to look into it with the firm who made the calls.

Res1, I want to review more closely, but I posted some of the current bond info above.


5 people like this
Posted by Kim
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 15, 2016 at 7:13 pm

The $240/1M doesn't drop this year until July 1st. The assessed value increases every year and the rate compounds annually so even if the bond rate doesn't increase our actual payments do. An annual debt service payment of $800/$1M in 2017 (old+new bond) will be closer to $870 by 2022.

We are still paying for the old bond for another 7 years. It is reckless to stack on more debt until we retire the 1997 bond debt service. Do you not see the irony in asking to invest in our kids while saddling them with our debt?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 16, 2016 at 8:24 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Kim, If the board votes to attempt a bond, I think there has to be a very strong list of priorities and educating the community (opening the schools as one example) about needs vs nice to have. As to saddling our kids with the debt, there are much bigger problems on the state and federal level in that regard.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 16, 2016 at 9:43 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

res1

1) They are nominal starting this year $20/$100,000 and are nearly nothing for the final two years.
2) No. They include AV growth and interest rates up to 7 percent in the scenarios I saw. The district is using an advisor.
3) I agree technology is a difficult sell. There is a technology fund and it has been used as a piggy bank for many other budget woes by previous administrators. More than a few of us have been vocal about not using the Tech Fund for other projects.
4) New homes still pay developer fees (and I believe at higher rates than when any of us bought 20 years ago).
5) I don’t believe anyone would try to sell a parcel tax to mitigate retirement plans. I agree the district needs a list of projects that are a priority and the cost for that list, not just a dream list with a dollar amount.
6) I don’t know the thinking on any current land holding(s). I would imagine the value of the property for Neal is much higher now than when purchased, assuming a buyer can develop it. The city and district have worked on joint projects in the past (Amador theater, middle school gyms). I hope they will continue to maximize taxpayer dollars to save redundant facilities and operations. At some point, all government agencies have to realize we are not a bottomless well.

I want to reiterate that Micaela Ochoa is a wonderful addition to the district office team. She is in a much better position to provide more detailed information.


1 person likes this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 16, 2016 at 10:44 am

We already have the highest tax burden in the nation vote no!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 16, 2016 at 10:49 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, where do you see the state of our facilities in the coming decades if you vote no on a facilities bond? There are propositions that deserve a no vote in November, but I don't think this is one of them given a solid list of must haves.


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Posted by ayeaye2016
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:25 am

ayeaye2016 is a registered user.

Kathleen, I agree with you and thank you for your efforts to look into this. Our schools have been needing upgrading for the past few years, but these needed upgrades and maintenances have been put off --guess why: THE RECESSION, leading to lack of funds.
Pete, and others who worry about costs, (and you are right to do so, until you see where the money will be going,) realize that if we don't maintain and upgrade now, the costs will be MUCH higher in a few years. A stitch in time, saves nine. Ditto, big bucks, $$$$$.
And if that metaphor doesn't grab you, look at our roads,highways, and bridges that have not been maintained, again partly, at least, due to lack of funds, and now require BEAUCOUP funds to fix what should have been done years ago.
The added money we have to pay in taxes,for this bond, is an investment in our kids, and in our our homes and real estate values,in the long run.


4 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:34 am

Kathleen,

I am going to throw something out for consideration. Some of us are now retired and on a fixed income and the only real asset my wife and I have is our home. We get a check once a month for our income and it never goes up. The same amount each month. Everytime Jerry Brown, or the county or Bart or the city raises taxes or the new term for taxes is fees or bonds, I have less money to live on and can do less for my family. I have made due with what I have and live within my means by cutting things out. I only ask that the city and schools do the same thing.

I have lived in the Bay Area since 1963 and Pleasanton since 1978 and for the first time I am seriously thinking about moving out of the state not because I want to but because I feel I am being forced out.


5 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:40 am

And don't get me wrong I do not mind sacrificing for the kids education but when I see my tax money being wasted time and time again I can't help but feel I am being played for a sucker especially when they is zero consideration for cost reduction or avaoidance. Culinary schools, a new library, landscaping, hard scaling???? These are not must have needs.


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Posted by RePeat
a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:44 am

Pete
Feel free to move if that is best for your family. Please note that home SALES drive up the value of our homes. Families, paying the higher home prices, come to Pleasanton for the schools. It certainly isn't because of the freeway traffic. We have all benefited, including you, from the influx of new families.


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:47 am

Repeat,

You are just a rude example of the type of people who have moved to out once polite and considerate small town.


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Posted by res1
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 16, 2016 at 12:22 pm

res1 is a registered user.

Kathleen,
In the last bond measure there were estimates for the assessment costs by a professional adviser but our assessments were actually higher than projected.

Yes new homes are paying school impact fees but I want a guarantee that the bond will not be used to enhance capacity. The enhanced capacity should be paid for by the new development.

I am not against financing technology infrastructure. I am against financing anything where we are paying for it past the useful life of the asset. I don't know if bond deals can have different terms and if the bond measure can list out terms that area allowed based on the project type (e.g., building: 30 years, technology: 15 years, etc.). Otherwise this is like continuing to make car payments even after the car is dead. It is ironic that the board just voted to use the technology fund to pay for a "culinary center" at Village High. Talk about going the wrong direction. Our students will be better prepared with technology vs. kitchen help.

While there will probably not be a parcel tax marketed to pay for retirement fees, the budget is fungible. So when retirement costs go up, other programs will probably be cut and they will have a parcel tax to "save the program". Happens all the time in government. If they max people out in a bond tax, they are saying they will not need a parcel tax in the future. If they think they need a parcel tax in the future, they should leave some headroom.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 16, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, I totally understand your position about tax increases as retirees. California is not generally a good place to retire. But think about where you might consider going instead. Without insulting other specific states, it simply won't be California. I don't disagree that the city and district need to work more closely on addressing the needs for all of Pleasanton. But to their credit, they have done so in the past.

I have disagreed with the culinary school, not because it isn't a worthwhile program, but because it was not voted on by this community as a priority. It was, however, a rush to save $2.4 million in funding from the state to build it. I also would rather see the current library revamped rather than building something new, but that's an initial reaction; I don't have all the information I need.

Throwing out ideas, is there a space in Hacienda for a City Center . . . district and city departments all in one place and valuable downtown land used for other purposes? I don't know. The city's and district's facilities are dated and cramped. We give a lot of lip service to being leaders among other communities, but I think it is a struggle to get two government agencies to get beyond egos and to cooperate on something that large.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 16, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

res1, If we cannot afford to build and run a new school, enhancing capacity may be necessary. There may be funds to subsidize what is built or improved. I don’t actually know that answer. (Micaela Ochoa would be the best source, and I hope she will be available for events to explain and respond to these types of questions.) I think a huge opportunity was lost at Walnut Grove because no one wanted a two story school. Why is that still a thing in California? It’s short sighted at best. It is outrageously expensive to build in the Bay area. Maybe we can tell the state, who made us *add* housing, that they can now foot the bill to accommodate the students and the cost of infrastructure. :o/

I’d have to dig up information on how Palo Alto approached their tech needs. If we would stop raiding the technology fund, there should be an ability to keep up with many of the advances going forward. Every time we borrow from the corpus, we lose interest and the ability to do what was intended for that fund. And I posted already about the culinary center, but would agree with others that the program isn’t about finding kitchen jobs for after high school. But what if we could get a City Center that incorporates the District? Will we have crippled our ability to use 4665 Bernal differently once we have added a new structure for Village?

I, too, worry about the hydraulics of the general fund for the very same reasons. Increasing STRS and PERS contributions are a real issue and it’s going to get worse. So a parcel tax, whenever . . . if ever, still has to be very specific for me (X counselors, X APs, CSR of 24:1 K-3, whatever, etc.). Past administrations were unwilling to be specific. In the meantime, my money goes straight into a classroom.


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Posted by res2
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 16, 2016 at 7:07 pm

res2 is a registered user.

Kathleen, if we need to enhance capacity, that should be paid for by the developer impact fees, not from a bond. However, since all of our schools are over capacity, according to the Pleasanton General Plan, don't think adding capacity at the existing facilities is going to be beneficial to our students (plus I think the city would need to modify the General Plan, after going through the public process). If we have maximum school sizes listed in the General Plan, we should either follow them, call for an exemption if it is expected to be a temporary overage, or change the General Plan. I don't like us just ignoring a key infrastructure item in our General Plan. The school district should also be working closely with the city to make sure we are collecting the appropriate fees for the new development to pay for the increased demand. Due to limits we can charge for school fees because of California Law (lobbied by the home developers), we need to get creative in doing joint-use facilities where some of the fees come from the school impact fees and part comes from the city parks and facilities impact fees. I would also argue that we should pay for the changes to the drop-off areas (something in the bond survey) by increasing the traffic mitigation fees for the city to pay for this. The problems with the dropoffs at the schools has been created by the overcapacity cause by new development.


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Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 16, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Looking forward to this discussion going away!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 16, 2016 at 8:44 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

How does the City determine school size unless they buy the land, build the school, and pay to operate it. How do you set a school size, approve housing, and stand back saying schools are too big?

The two entities should be collaborative to maximize the use of taxpayer dollars, and that has occurred in the past.

As for traffic, let's start with Alisal and take down the wall at Kolln. It would be an interesting test.

I'm looking forward to district staff having educational meetings so these issues can be discussed with a broader audience.


5 people like this
Posted by no more money
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 17, 2016 at 9:24 am

No, no, no on any increase in taxes or fees. For any reason. The district has thrown away money on excess pensions, overpaid non-essential employees and lawsuits, just to name a few things. They have no sense of accountability for spending our money. A multi million dollar culinary school? What idiot thought that one up? How about a skydiving school? They could buy a fleet of airplanes and pay for all of it with a new bond charged to the taxpaying fools of Pleasanton. If the district wants to offer actual trade school classes -- plumbing, auto repair, electrician -- that makes sense. Teach non-academic scholars something that will be useful to earn a living. A culinary school? Please.

As for a new library -- I use the library at all hours including post school and weekends. I have NEVER even once seen it filled to anything near capacity.

I will vote no on any effort to get more money in any manner at all. If you have kids in school, spend some of your own money, stop grabbing for mine.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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