The Contra Costa County Taxpayers’ Association Director asked me recently why the West Contra Costa Unified School District needed a 7th school construction bond as if there was some carefully thought-out construction-based planning process behind it. I chuckled. I shared with him these steps for how the wheel keeps going ‘round:
- Survey/push-poll people with leading questions late in an odd-numbered year.
- Find a tax rate that will give a comfortable margin over 55%.
- Calculate a total “bondage” amount based completely on that tax rate.
- Attach a permissive scrambled “project list” for everything and anything.
- Include front-end ballot text language to stay “within legal debt limits” along with buried back-end language that the district may have to seek a debt ceiling waiver. (For the last 2 bonds, the district has been over the statutory debt ceiling on waivers.)
- Put it on a June or November even-year ballot. (These are the only allowed dates for WCCUSD Prop. 39 elections.)
- Use “scope-based” “budgeting” to burn through the money while holding the tax rate for that specific bond withing the projected limit.
- Repeat two years later.
The district pats itself on the back for staying at target individual bond tax rates, while a total school bond tax rate that is already the highest in all of California continues to grow more and more.