PVUSD eyes potential bond measure: Board hears presentation, reviews survey and data findings

As presented by Isom Advisors representative Jason List on May 15 at the Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD) Board of Trustees meeting, the findings were the results of a survey conducted from May 9 – May 11, with 174 households contacted (or 10% of the district’s registered voters), to gauge the overall voters’ general attitudes towards a possible bond measure in the upcoming November 2018 ballot. (Photo by Uriel Avendano/Palo Verde Valley Times)

Would voters support a bond measure for local schools? According to one presentation, the answer is yes — and the lower the tax rate, the higher the support.

The May 15 Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD) Board of Trustees meeting featured a presentation from the Isom Advisors, a Division of Urban Futures, Inc., firm on their recent survey findings in reference to the feasibility of placing a bond measure on the upcoming November 2018 ballot.

As presented by Isom Advisors representative Jason List, the findings were the results of a survey conducted from May 9 to May 11, with 174 households contacted (or 10 percent of the district’s registered voters), to gauge the general attitudes toward PVUSD; the interest for or against projects to be funded by a proposed measure; and the tolerance for the tax rates — in this case, the proposed taxes explored set the cost toward property owners at either $60, $55, or $49 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year.

According to Isom Advisors survey’s tax tolerance chart, the lower the proposed tax rate, the higher in favor of voting “yes” at the ballot box — with all three rates ultimately finding in the affirmative general consensus:

• At the $49 rate, 62 percent of surveyed property owners would vote yes (per List, netting an estimated $24.5 million).

• At the $55 rate, 57 percent of surveyed property owners would vote yes (per List, netting an estimated $27.5 million).

• At the $60 rate, 55 percent of surveyed property owners would vote yes (per List, netting an estimated $30 million).

“I don’t expect the (PVUSD Board of Trustees) to decide (a proposed bond measure) at this minute, or even between now and the next board meeting — (on) if we want to move forward and consider a bond measure resolution or not. But I did want to put it on your radar to think about because it could be a potential solution to quite a number of our problems,” noted PVSUD Superintendent Dr. Charles Bush. “I don’t think we would need to do any more than the $49 dollars. The $(24.5) million bucks (at the $49 rate’s estimated revenue) would give us enough to do the things we need to do; particularly because we could set ourselves up to be eligible for matching monies from the State, (organizations), a few things like that and not put any more debt than necessary on our community.”

Currently, as noted by Bush to the board, PVUSD has $1.6 million coming out of the general fund annually toward the district’s debt.

“The state may do another large state bond in the future, but it’s been a 10-year gap between the one we just got (in 2016) and the previous term,” stated List in highlighting the board’s decision and the need to prioritize the matter for the November 2018 election.

In answer to PVUSD Vice President Jamey Mullion’s question on what the ballpark cost to the district would be should it decide to move forward with a November 2018 bond measure, List stated:

“The only cost that (PVUSD) is allowed to take on, legally, is (the cost) to get on the election itself — so, much like the district has to pay for the board elections — (PVUSD) has to pay (Riverside County) to get on the ballot. What the cost is, is probably pretty similar to what your board elections are; and it’s based on the aggregate of other races within the county. So I couldn’t come up with that exact number — from the (bond measure) campaign’s standpoint, school districts are legally not allowed to spend district one dollars to run a campaign. So everything within the confines of the campaign would be paid through by a separate campaign committee that we would help (to) find ways to do the campaign raising and get the dollars. That would all be paid for by the committee. Once you win an election, and once you sell bonds, that’s the only time professionals such as myself, the bond attorneys, are paid (…) There’s really no financial risk to the district.”

Further, the Isom Advisors conclusion noted that most projects tested received 55 percent of voter support or above for the named proposed projects surveyed (e.g. installing solar panels to improve districtwide efficiency; construction of a new barn/agricultural rehabilitation center; providing the general fund relief vis-à-vis paying off the district loan that went to construct and modernize school facilities).

The PVUSD Board of Trustees is expected to further evaluate the matter and come to a decision at a future regular meeting.

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