Similar to the Pleasanton school district, trustees have put a bond measure on the ballot to update and renovate buildings that are 50 years old or more. It totals $450 million.
In the description for voters, the measure is described as adding 6 cents per $100 of assessed value. That sounds trivial until you realize that it’s per Ben Franklin, not per $100,000, the number that is typically used. Using that more realistic number, the new tax would be $60 per $100,000 or $300 a year for a house with an assessed valuation of $500,000. It’s important to pay attention to assessed valuation because it typically is much less than market value and based on the purchase price of the house with a maximum of a 2% annual increase that is capped under Proposition 13.
The tax increase—this is a new bond—is significant. And it’s sad that officials felt they needed to spin the bond. Livermore voters have done everything the district has asked for them, establishing a parcel tax in 2004 and renewing it three times including this spring plus passing a bond measure in 2016.
The 6 cents was jarring because I’ve been talking with Todd Utikal who is co-chairing the citizens’ group backing Pleasanton’s bond. In conversations and emails with him, he felt it was important to keep the total number under $400 million.
The Pleasanton district had sent a mailer, before trustees made the final decision, that included a $450 million bond with an estimated repayment of $55 per $100,000 in assessed valuation.
Like Livermore, Pleasanton’s is a new issue and would be a tax increase.
In the case of both districts, the need is undeniable. Livermore just used bond proceeds to finish new athletic complexes at both high schools, replacing a 1930s gym at Livermore. It was paid for by a $245 million bond issue passed in 2016 that also included improvement to two middle schools.
Amador Valley has a gym of that same age, which I wrestled back during the 1960s. Amador’s “new gym” opened in the 1968. Just how well is your 50-year-old home doing without renovations and updates?
The Pleasanton bond includes knocking down and replacing the vintage Amador Theatre, which is as old as the gym, but was refurbished with a foyer and restrooms added in a community effort 25 years ago. That didn’t modify the balcony where rows seemingly are spaced for elementary students. District officials say they will evaluate whether keeping the bones of the structure would be worthwhile, but, as it moves from city ownership presumably back into school district, the state architect’s office must approve plans and nobody seems to be able to find the ancient plans.
Stay tuned for more to come on the bonds.