The

Weekly Journal

Observing the Tea Party Principles of Smaller Government, Fiscal Responsibility, Debt Free Future and Secure Borders

Page Two

Cochise County BOS Owner Builder Opt Out

****CALL TO ACTION****

If you have not contacted the Board of Sups there 

is still time to have your voice heard before the

September 26th BOS Regular Meeting.

Don't Delay Call or Email ASAP

Property Tax Increases (Done), Building Permit Increases (Done) 

County Over reach on Property Rights (Pending)

SCROLL DOWN TO "COCHISE COUNTY" FOR FULL DETAILS

Supervisors, County Building Dept Wage War on Private Property Rights. Move to Cancel "Owner-Builder Opt Out" Clause in Building Codes and Increase Permit Fees

Some Talking Points:

>There is no evidence that OBOO homes are unsafe;

>Only 2-4 houses are Owner built annually;

>The Building Code adds nothing to building safety, 

>Increasing building permit fees will not stimulate a building boom;

>Building permits have no effect on insurance ratings; 

>More information HERE

UPDATE #3:  BOS now contemplating Building Permit fee increasing to double the costs besides eliminating the OBOO.  Sounds like they have a solution in search of a problem.  Sales job to the public to implement the Building Codes, back in 2006, was the new growth of government was supposed to be self sustaining.  It is not and never has been.  If this was a business, this department would be shuttered and written of as a good try; BUT this is government.   Their solution is to take their failure,  increase the fees and stick it to the taxpayer.  
To assuage their guilt and to spread the responsibility for increasing the fees around, the BOS have tasked the County P&Z to hear the power point presentation by Mr Izzo and making a recommendation back to the BOS.  The next P & Z meeting is Wednesday, August 9th 4:00pm in the BOS Hearing Room, Bldg G. 

You can also call the Supervisors Office and leave messages for them or send emails to them HERE 

(Many thanks to Mike Jackson of CCIPRA, for bird-dogging the BOS, County Planning Office, P & Z Commission, and keeping us all apprised of this very important issue.  Get the full story at his website HERE   Protect your private property rights.  --ED)

CALL TO ACTION: Read the document and then call or email, or both, your County Supervisor to keep the "Owner Builder Opt Out" Protect your private property rights and those rights of your neighbors. The Building Codes are about control and hidden taxes in "permit fees"not heath or safety. You can access this document HERE

Call:  520-432-9200 for all Supervisors

EMail links:  https://www.cochise.az.gov/board-supervisors/home

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WATER

Federal Water Rights Threaten Local Water Wells Drilled After 1988

By Eric Peterman, Sierra Vista Herald Nov.26,2016

 

If the federal water rights sought by the Bureau of Land Management for the San Pedro subwatershed are granted by an Arizona court, existing residential wells near the river could be shut down and real estate development would be stopped, Cochise County Supervisor Pat Call said in a Herald/Review interview.

 

Call traveled to Phoenix Nov. 14 to be deposed in a state court proceeding that will define the water rights for Fort Huachuca and the BLM in the San Pedro subwatershed — an area that stretches north from the Cochise County border with Mexico and spans parts of Palominas, Hereford, Sierra Vista, Huachuca City, Whetstone and Benson.

 

The case is part of the four-decades long Gila River water rights adjudication and has been “activated” for trial proceedings in a Maricopa Superior Court for three weeks in November, 2017. Lawyers from the Arizona Attorney General’s office — representing the State Land Department — and the federal Department of Justice are preparing to argue the case.

 

“If the DOJ is successful here, the BLM said four years ago at an Upper San Pedro Partnership meeting that if they get their federal reserved water rights they will begin shutting down any residential wells installed since 1988,” Call said.

 

Fort Huachuca will be the first federal agency to have its request for about 7,600 acre feet in the subwatershed decided by the state court, Call said.

 

“They have the seniority because they have records and claims that go back to 1877,” he said.

seeking more than The BLM case would be next in line, with the federal agency 44,000 acre feet in water rights. An acre foot is defined by the volume of water needed to cover one acre of surface area to a depth of one foot, some 325,851 U.S. gallons.

 

Call estimated that more than 3,000 privately-owned wells have been installed since 1988 in the San Pedro watershed.

 

“This isn’t Fort Huachuca doing this, and it’s not the local BLM office. This is the Department of Justice,” Call said. “That means that any political influence we have, or contacts, don’t count any more. This is way up in DOJ.”

 

Fred Breedlove, director of the Natural Resources Division in the Arizona Land Department, said the agency is opposed to the BLM water rights request because of its impact on land values.

“The real impact will be on all the land that is outside of the SPRNCA (San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area),” Breedlove said. “Because of the volume of water rights being requested by the BLM, there may not be enough water available to sell and develop state-owned properties in the area.”

 

Call said the San Pedro case is the first that will be decided in the Gila River adjudication.

“We’re kind of the test case, but after us, this will move all over the state deciding water rights for federal agencies for other tributaries that are part of the Gila River,” Call said.

 

The prominence of being first has drawn the involvement of other organizations in the case. Mining companies in the state, including Freeport McMoRan, have joined the state case in opposing the BLM request. The Salt River Project — which provides water to most of the Phoenix area — supports the federal government rights request. The SRP is a federal reclamation project, which awards federal water rights to the agency.

 

“The SRP wants the federal government to get the water rights it wants, because that decision would help them secure the water rights in the northern part of the state like the Verde area,” Call said.

 

Call said an attorney has been retained by the City of Sierra Vista, Pueblo del Sol and the Liberty Water Company to join in contesting the BLM’s water rights request. Call, who is the former Executive Director of the Cochise Water Project, said Cochise County Supervisors may consider sharing in the legal costs to oppose the federal agency’s request.

 

Call said a Superior Court decision favoring the BLM would have a significant economic impact on all of Cochise County.

 

“If the BLM is granted this request, then there can be no further development or building of new homes. Fort Huachuca can’t grow, and if that happens then the Army is going take it some place it can grow,” he said.

The supervisor also pointed to the irony of the BLM request, which he argued will someday, “dry up the river.”

“We have the long-term solution that will save the San Pedro,” Call said. “Whether the BLM will consider that solution is another issue.”

 

He pointed to the network of aquifer recharge projects that county supervisors, The Nature Conservancy, The Hereford Natural Resource Conservation District, Sierra Vista, Walton Family Foundation and the Cochise Conservation and Recharge Network have developed along the San Pedro.

 

“When the cone of depression expands and flattens out, then it will be these aquifers that will be drawn down, not the river,” Call said.

 

Cochise County has earned national recognition for the first of four recharge projects to be completed. The Palominas Recharge Project has been in operation for two monsoon, and was completed in 2014.  The county also acquired the Mansker property as part of that project. Other recharge areas include the Horseshoe Draw project, Sierra Vista’s Environmental Operations Park, Bella Vista and the Riverstone property.

Call Offers San Pedro Solution

Eric Peterman, Sierra Vista Herald  May 19. 2017

Center calls San Pedro solution a ‘lie’

Eric Peterman, Sierra Vista Herald June 18, 2017

Horseshoe Draw Recharge Ready for Monsoon

Eric Peterman. Sierra Vista Herald June 16, 2017

JUNE 21, 2017

Tributary Projects Aim to Improve Health of San Pedro River

Watershed work aims for increased flows and health of the undammed river.by Zachary Ziegler, AZ Public Media

COUNCIL EXECUTIVE REPORTS  2016.

City Of Sierra Vista -Slum/Blight Designation  for Redevelopment

WHAT IS A SLUM/BLIGHT DESIGNATION? HOW WILL IT EFFECT YOUR PROPERTY?

Chronological listing of events

**Initial Proposal for Slum-Blight Sept  6, 2016**

"Finding of Necessity" City Report 

Feb 21st Council Work Session

City Publication: REDEVELOPMENT FAQ's

March 8th Public Meeting at Kino Hall

KCTR News Interviews with WE Property Owners, Rachel Gray

 

 

***City Council Considers Creating "Blighted Area" on 342 Acres of West End to Get CDBG Grants

“The purpose of preparing a redevelopment area plan is to improve or redevelop areas of a city that have older and deteriorating structures, old or historic areas, as well as vacant parcels which can have a negative impact the health, safety, morals and welfare of the residents,” McLachlan said.

The Community Development Department completed an extensive inventory of the properties within the detailed 342 acres of the West End  and presented their findings to the Council at Tuesdays Work Session. Justification for the plan is because the West End has the oldest buildings in the City, they are 50+ years old and have reached their "useful life" (tell that to Bisbee or Tombstone) and meets the State statute ARS 36-1471 to declare the Area "blighted".  The full report "Finding of Necessity Study--West End Redevelopment Area " listing all the properties on the West End and their condition is HERE

 

First introduction of possible Slum/Blight designation of the West End at the  SEPTEMBER 6TH, 2016, COUNCIL WORK SESSION, item 2c Matt McLachlan received unanimous approval to initiate Slum-Blight-Redevelopment program. Councilman Gray asked if there would be public outreach and was assured that there would be a public meeting. Councilman Calhoun questioned the extension to Coronado Dr. Plan extended due to the "age of the buildings." Council warned of "slum-blight" negative public perceptions--they didn't guess what a hullabaloo it would cause.

Feb 21st Council Work Session Item 2: "Finding of Necessity" to designate Slum-Blight-Redevelopment area and establish  West Sierra Vista Partnership Program and to extend to Coronado.

March 8th Wed 11:30 AM   PUBLIC MEETING WEST END -SLUM/BLIGHT Information--Q & A

recorded by Gabe Chavez Show.  March 8th Public Meeting at Kino Hall Meeting starts at 11:00 minutes. 

Following the Public Meeting, Chuck Alton of KCTR News Interviews with West End Property Owners and Councilman Rachel Gray

SVUSD BOND  ISSUE

District Budget Revision Means Staffing Reductions

Dana Cole, Herald/Review 12/6/2018

SIERRA VISTA — Amid presentations and routine business, Tuesday’s Sierra Vista Unified School District Governing Board meeting recognized outgoing board members Debra Scott and Marge Carrithers, as well as Administrative Assistant Carol Jordahl.

Tuesday marked the last board meeting for the three.

Scott has served on the school board since 2002, and was board president four of those years.

Carrithers worked as a school district administrator for 20 years, and after retiring as principal of Carmichael Elementary School, served on the school board four years.

They will be replaced by newly elected board members Hollie Sheriff and Joy Mims. Both women are actively involved in public education and the community.

After 17 years with the district, Jordahl is retiring. Along with her role as administrative assistant, she served as the liaison for homeless children, responsible for purchasing clothing, school supplies and other school-related essentials, while ensuring the students had free meals. Jordahl said she will always remember her role as liaison as most rewarding.

Alan Ramsey, who has been training with Jordahl since late October, has been hired as the district’s new administrative assistant.

 

Budget revision presentation

District Superintendent Kelly Glass presented a budget revision where she reported that the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has reduced the district’s budget capacity by $1.2 million. The reduction is because of a drop in enrollment by 195 students, which creates a direct financial hit for the district, along with a $100,000 capital fund over-expenditure from last year the district is required to repay this year. Between the two, the district is facing a budget deficit of about $1.2 million.

In her presentation, Glass pointed to a 2017-18 100-day student enrollment of 5,277, compared to the current enrollment of 5,082 students. In 2014-15, the district had 6,022 children.

“In the past several years, we have had declining enrollment, so we have had some difficulties with that,” she said.

The drop in enrollment is being experienced by school districts throughout Cochise County, and is not limited to SVUSD, Glass said.

“The only place we could take the funds from at this point is from salaries and benefits,” Glass said.

She also talked about a new software program at the county office that created a number of accounting issues for the school district, which the school district and country are working to resolve.

“We are taking that $1.2 million (deficit) from salaries and benefits until we can have an accurate accounting of what we are bringing forward from last year,” Glass said.

In order to help prevent the district from over-expenditures until the budget is resolved, Glass has implemented the following processes and procedures:

All vacancies must be approved by Glass.  

Comp time and overtime must be approved by Glass

The district will be cutting back on substitutes whenever possible.

Glass also noted that, despite the drop in student count, the district has not cut staff, something that cannot continue. As a result, all staffing positions will be reviewed.

“We’re just at a point where we can no longer sustain the staffing levels we are currently maintaining.”

Glass said she hopes most of the staffing reductions can be handled through attrition. In addition, some staff may have to teach different grade levels or move to different schools within the district.

“I certainly don’t like to hear these things, but it’s certainly not unexpected,” Scott said at the conclusion of the presentation.

Carrithers said there have already been between 12 and 15 staffing reductions to attrition earlier in the year.

With the impending staffing reductions, board member Connie Johnson questioned the impact the reductions could have on class sizes, primarily for elementary school children.

Glass assured the board that she is aware of the importance of small class sizes and that the district will attempt to adhere to its recommended class sizes as much as possible.

Glass said she hopes that 90 percent of all staffing reductions will be through attrition.

 

Bond update presentation

Glass presented a bond update, along with a strategic plan for bond projects.

The district has a new part-time bond specialist to ensure all bond projects are properly accounted for, said Glass, who noted that 62 percent of the bond funds need to be spent on elementary school projects, while the remaining 38 percent of bond funds must be allocated for the high school projects.

She reported that the district is getting closer every day to having a better understanding of how to allocate those funds, and is moving money to meet the requirements when possible.

School Facilities Board money from the state has helped the district stretch its bond dollars by agreeing to pay for new roofs at the Rothery Educational Center, Joyce Clark Middle School and Pueblo del Sol Elementary School.

Some of the priority projects include a multipurpose room and cafeteria upgrade and remodel at Pueblo del Sol Elementary School, bathroom renovations throughout the district, fire system upgrades and paving.

The multipurpose room at Village Meadows Elementary School will be completed on Dec. 18, and the exterior doors and security projects at Buena High School are nearly completed.

SVUSD MEETING TUESDAY NIGHT 6PM

Public Invited to Comment on SVUSD Budget

Path to progress: How SVUSD is using its bond dollars

Dana Cole, Herald/Review 6/4/2018

https://www.myheraldreview.com/news/business/path-to-progress-how-svusd-is-using-its-bond-dollars/article_cb2b6146-66de-11e8-9d1b-5fabe874c653.html
 

SIERRA VISTA — Drive by most Sierra Vista Unified School District campuses and you’ll likely notice the large

“Your Bond Dollars at Work” banners.  Construction for a new multipurpose building at Village

Meadows Elementary School is currently underway, representing one of the district’s larger bond-funded projects during the summer months.

“The concrete footings, masonry stem-walls, under-slab plumbing and concrete slab have been completed,” said Steve Gibson, who is overseeing the district’s bond-funded construction. “The goal is to have the project completed around the end of September 2018. Estimated cost for the multipurpose building is $1.175 million.”

At Buena High School, a practice gym and Buena Performing Arts theater workshop also are underway.

Division II Construction was awarded the bid for the two new additions, which came in around $2.6 million. The estimated completion date for both buildings is mid-March 2019.

 

About the bond

In November 2016, voters approved a bond referendum of nearly $29 million to fund districtwide building repairs and replacement projects, new buses, updated technology, security fencing, additions that are compliant with the ADA (Americans With Disability Act), and numerous other projects for all eight of the district’s campuses.

“In order to execute the bond, we did two bond sales,” said Deb Scott, SVUSD School Board president. “Our first bond sale was in April 2017 for $17 million, and our second sale of $11 million will go out in the spring of 2019. Money from the first bond supported life, safety, transportation, IT (information technology) and other priority projects across the district.” Scott added that the bond will be paid back over 22 years.

“For the past 10 years, the state has cut capital funding to all public schools across Arizona by 85 percent,”** Scott said. “Because of these cuts, we were terribly underfunded, left with a capital budget of 15 percent.”

With no money for new construction, building repairs and infrastructure upgrades, the district turned to the community for support through a bond referendum of nearly $29 million, which voters approved.

To date, of the $17 million from the first bond sale, 78 percent of that amount has been spent, with the district’s most urgent needs pushed to the top of a priority list.

A capital bond oversight committee representing Sierra Vista residents from different backgrounds monitors the progress of the capital improvement projects. The committee is divided into three subcommittees, and is co-chaired by Bruce Dockter and Jerry Proctor.

“The oversight committee has been reviewing the execution of the bond funds, and we are happy to see the progress made on the many projects approved by the voters,” Dockter said in a recent interview. “The completed IT projects are bringing promised technological capabilities to the students, and construction projects at Village Meadows Elementary School and Buena High School are visible signs of the community’s support for education.”

On the transportation side, 10 new 84-passenger buses have been purchased, along with five new mini buses and four special-needs buses, representing a starting point in replacing an outdated fleet. While less visible than the construction projects, the new buses are another important component the bond project has brought to the district, Dockter noted.

 

June bond-funded projects

Gibson outlined the following projects at different district school sites that will be underway in June.

Another project at Buena High School includes replacing a water-damaged area, along with mold remediation. Gibson expects the $85,000 project — which consists of removing and replacing drywall, insulation and ceiling tiles — will be completed the first week of July.

When Buena students return to school in the fall, there will be an access-control system in place as an extra security component. All exterior doors will be monitored through a computer software system with entry access by a card reader. The system also includes an automatic lock-down feature capable of activating within seconds, Gibson said. The approximately $360,000 system includes new doors and hardware at all exterior entries.

Stan’s Fence is installing new security fencing at Bella Vista Elementary School, representing another safety feature the district is implementing.

Following an ADA bathroom assessment at Carmichael, Town & Country, Village Meadows and Pueblo del Sol elementary schools, upgrades to existing bathrooms, along with building some new facilities at the schools will be underway, making them ADA-compliant. The $600,000 estimate includes new fixtures, toilet partitions, flooring, lighting and paint in the existing bathrooms.

A portable classroom at the southwest corner of Bella Vista Elementary School will be demolished and removed.

Several schools are receiving new carpet and tile replacement along with asbestos abatement.

 

School Facilities Board projects

Schools throughout the district are receiving new roofs and HVAC systems with state funding from the (STATE FUNDED- ED) School Facilities Board (SFB).

This funding does not come out of the bond referendum, but is a completely different funding source.

While roofs and HVAC replacement projects were listed as priorities in the district’s initial bond analysis, the district later learned these projects would be funded by SFB.

“It’s important that the community understands the difference between these two funding sources,” said Kriss Hagerl, SVUSD superintendent. “Because we’re waiting for SFB money, some of our roofing and HVAC projects have been put on hold so we can take advantage of SFB funds. They allow us to stretch our bond dollars.”

Through SFB money, Huachuca Mountain Elementary School received a $640,000 roof and the school’s multipurpose room received a $320,000 HVAC system, which replaced an old swamp cooler.

The state funding also replaced air conditioning units at the following schools: Bella Vista ($240,00); Carmichael ($320,000); Pueblo Del Sol ($280,000); Town & Country ($320,000); Village Meadows ($320,000) and Joyce Clark Middle School ($510,000). In addition, Joyce Clark received a 30-ton air conditioning unit for its cafeteria, at nearly $40,000.  ($2,990,000)

Funding for roofing projects at Town & Country, Pueblo Del Sol, Joyce Clark and the Rothery Educational Services Center, also from SFB, are estimated at a little over $1 million. According to information from the district, the estimated amount for all SFB-funded projects, is about $4.1 million.

 

How much bond money is left?

Starting with a $17 million bond budget in 2017, about $13,380,595 — or 78.5 percent — of that money has been spent. Funding has been disbursed through numerous projects throughout the district, at all eight school campuses, as well as the Rothery Center and bus barn. To date, the remaining bond amount is around $3,659,411.

The oversight committee meets at 5:15 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every other month at the SVUSD board room. The public is welcome to attend these meetings, where they can learn how bond dollars are being spent and how projects are being executed.

The next meeting is July 24.

INFO BOX

Original amount approved: Nearly $29 million

April 2017 sale: $17 million

Spring 2019 sale: $11 million

Funds utilized so far: $13,380,595

Total amount remaining: $3,659,411

Years to pay back bond: 22

Note: There are fees associated with the bond sale that are not reflected in these totals.

Complete Bond Info at SVUSD 68

includes actual expenditures, dates, Bond oversight Committee Meetings, Total Indebtedness $28.87 million

SVUSD Starts Bond Projects, Gets Help from State

Dana Cole, Herald/Review November 12, 2017

SIERRA VISTA — A number of construction projects have been completed on campuses throughout the Sierra Vista Unified School District with funds the district received through the initial $17 million bond sale. But those dollars may stretch further than expected, thanks to additional support from the state.

“We’re actually moving some projects around because we expect them to be picked up by the School Facilities Board (SFB),” SVUSD Superintendent Kriss Hagerl said Thursday.

One example of a SFB-funded project is at Huachuca Mountain Elementary School where the state is paying for a new roof.

“With the facilities board stepping in to finance some of the major projects like roofs and HVAC systems, we’ll be able to stretch our bond money,” said Hagerl, who expects the SFB will pay for roof work at Joyce Clark Middle School as well.

But that doesn’t mean the bond money isn’t already being put to good use.

“When we first started these projects, we made the health and safety concerns a priority,” Hagerl said. “Fire sprinkler replacements were done and we made ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) improvements in the restrooms at our older schools. Drinking fountains have been replaced at different school sites as needed.”

The library at Joyce Clark Middle School (JCMS) has gone through a major remodel, to include flooring, paint, window blinds, furniture and book shelves, she said.

Chromebooks will be provided to Buena and JCMS students as part of the bond’s IT upgrade. Interactive whiteboards have been installed at the elementary schools.

“Our district instructional coordinator, Kathryn Wright is working with instructional technology specialists at both the high school and middle school on implementing teacher professional learning opportunities,” Hagerl said.  “She also is assisting with the acquisition of online resources to support teachers in planning for next year.”

Hagerl said the teachers who complete the training will be issued laptops in December so they can begin integrating technology resources into the classrooms.

Across the district, six buildings have received new roofs and several others have been patched as the district waits for SFB funding. Roof coating has been applied to 32,000 square feet of surface.

Bruce Dockter, who co-chairs a 17-member bond oversight committee with Jerry Proctor, said he is extremely happy with the district’s progress and is especially pleased about the SFB funds.

“The initial bond status was $17 million based on the first bond sale, and the district has spent about $6 million of that money,” Dockter said. “Because they’re waiting to hear more from the school facilities board, they moved other projects forward that were part of the bond package."

One of those projects is a new room addition planned for the Buena Performing Arts Center, Dockter said.

“That project is being moved up. The room will give kids an area to build stage sets. Right now, they work out in the teachers’ parking lot,” Dockter said. “The room is going to be a wonderful addition for the kids.”

Dockter also talked about new school buses the district was able to purchase.

“They now have 10 new 84-passenger school buses as well as five special needs buses and four mini buses which are used for small groups. The district has done a great job of demonstrating fiscal responsibility in the way they’re spending the money,” he said.  

A new multipurpose room planned for Village Meadows Elementary School represents the district’s first new construction project, Hagerl said.  

The school district has turned to local contractors and supplies to work on the projects, she added.

The SVUSD board voted to pursue a $28.87 million bond to fund critical projects throughout the district in May 2016. Board members also stressed the importance of a bond oversight committee for accountability to taxpayers and to ensure the district spends the funds in a fiscally responsible manner.

In October, the district met a requirement to provide a community bond status report by holding a meeting where the community had an opportunity to see how the money is being spent at each school site.

“When he gave the report, Mr. Proctor said the committee is comfortable by the fiscally responsible manner the district is spending the money and completing the projects,” Hagerl said.

SVUSD Bond Oversight Committee Meets Project Manager, First Sale of Bonds

Monique Brand, Sierra Vista Herald 5/7/2017

SIERRA VISTA — The Sierra Vista Unified School District Capital Bond Oversight Committee is moving steadily forward on its plans.

According to the Governing Board Advisory Committee Charter, “the purpose of the committee is to monitor the execution and progress of the capital improvement projects for which the bond was passed through reports provided by district administration and site inspections.”

There are 17 Sierra Vista residents who make up the committee, bringing “a wide range of knowledge and skills in areas such as finance, construction, technology, and business as well as a desire to ensure the school district follows through with doing what they proposed to do in the bond election in a fiscally responsible manner,” SVUSD Superintendent Kriss Hagerl said.

On April 25, the committee met Steve Gibson, the new district project manager.

According to Hagerl, Gibson, a longtime Willcox resident, has been in the construction industry for more than 38 years and project management for about 25 years. He took on the position April 3.

“His focus will be to define the scopes of work within the defined bond budget with the end goal of getting projects completed on time and under budget,” Hagerl said. “He has been engaged with a number of district employees and outside contractors regarding the work within major projects. He has also spent a  great deal of time learning the unique procurement regulations and processes required of Arizona schools.”

There are 56 projects outlined in the bond project list including replacement of the elementary campuses’ HVAC units and drinking fountains. Joyce Clark Middle School has an expected library project where the facility will turn into a technology room.

As stated by the list, the projects will cost the district approximately $28.8 million dollars.

SVUSD plans to sell $28.8 million in bonds over two sales; one for $17 million — which was offered the week of April 17. The second sale is planned for spring of 2019.   

Mike Conley, SVUSD chief financial officer, gave an update on the bond sale on April 25, and noted that the sale netted $17,292,172.35 with $16,964,600 to be deposited with the county on May 9. He also said the cost of issuance for the bonds totals to $74,000.

Conley said the true interest cost for the district was 3.077 percent; adding, “this is an excellent rate of interest.”

“SVUSD is pleased that the market conditions, combined with our favorable bond rating, helped us realize a true interest cost on the bonds in this first sale,” Hagerl said. “Although we have no way of knowing the interest rate we will incur for the second sale in two years, the interest rate on the first sale provides certainty for the secondary property tax rates within the school district to stay on track with the estimations published in the bond election pamphlet.”

Approximately $1.5 million of the bonds were purchased in the Sierra Vista area, Hagerl said.

Commentary:

Voters Approve Increase in Property Tax for 22 years.

Some property owners will be stunned to know that they will be paying additional property taxes of $84 per year per $100,000 of assessed value of their homes within the Sierra Vista School District. ($168 for $200,000; $252 for $300,000).  They may also be stunned when they find out that over $12,000,000 of the bond debt will be for items that have a useful life of 3 years to 10 years. meaning that the computers will long be in the tech -scrap heap but property owners will be paying for them for an additional 19 years.   

Voters also approved an increase in the minimum wage from current $8.05 per hour to $10.00 beginning in January.  The unintended consequences of this increase is how it will effect schools across the State. Seems most school districts will be scrambling since it will cause an increase in wages for classroom aides, crossing guards, bus drivers, custodians, maintenance workers  and more casual labor they don't have the budget for.  Gee, you would have thought that the school districts would have been a little more vocal about opposing Prop 206 since it will have a deleterious effect on the children. 

SVUSD $29,000,000 Bond Debt  Will Be Issued in 2 Bonds. Funding Hinges on Voter Approval

Dana Cole, SV Herald, 10-16-2016  (Reprinted here because you cannot read the article unless you are a Herald  subscriber )

SIERRA VISTA – The Nov. 8 General Election ballot will ask registered voters in the Sierra Vista Unified School District to authorize a $29 million bond the district needs to fund a number of capital projects.

If approved, the bond money will be used to address aging buildings, transportation needs, educational technology, equipment upgrades and school capacity deficiencies.

“State cuts in education funding that started with the recession in 2008 have created a serious shortfall in our capital fund, making it impossible for us to pay for big infrastructure projects,” said Superintendent Kriss Hagerl.

From 2009 through 2016, the school district has endured a cumulative reduction of nearly $13 million to its capital budget, noted Hagerl. The funding cuts have left the district without adequate capital to address critical facility improvements at all of its sites. In addition, outdated school buses – some more than 18 years old - continue to be used.  In order to keep pace with current trends in education, new technology needs to be in place for all grade levels, to the tune of $7.4 million, Hagerl noted.

“Prior to the recession, we had a capital fund of nearly $3 million annually, but the state has since cut that to about $350,000,” said Hagerl. “We just do not have the funds to keep up with what needs to be done for critical infrastructure upgrades.”

In an effort to gather community input to help find solutions, Hagerl organized a 23-member committee of diverse community representatives that included the school district, City officials and business and civic leaders. The Capital Planning Committee, with Bruce Dockter as its chair, met for the first time in March. The committee compiled a 21-page report of critical capital improvements that had been identified by architectural firm Orcutt/Winslow, and presented its findings to the school board and community.

The architectural firm had been retained to complete a comprehensive analysis of the district’s facilities. Ed Boot, project consultant for Orcutt/Winslow, presented a briefing to the planning committee when it first convened, outlining $33 million in different projects, Dockter said, as he recalled that meeting.

The committee went through the recommendations, which were prioritized based on the “most impact to the district,” and presented those findings to the school board.

The fire, life and safety projects were at the top of the list of priorities, then came the need for new roofs,” Dockter said. Fire, life and safety upgrades involve replacing electrical systems, fire alarms and sprinklers at all school sites.

Roofs across the school district are another critical assessment that came through Boot’s report. It identified 780,000 square feet in roofs that either need to be completely replaced, or require major repairs, said Dockter. “The 780,000 square feet is equivalent to more than 200 houses,” he noted.

When asked about some of the more pressing infrastructure concerns, district maintenance supervisor Jim Torrey also emphasized roofs. “Two years ago we had two different schools with mold issues because of leaks,” he said. “District wide, nearly all the roofs need to be replaced or recoated. We’ve had significant leaks at Joyce Clark (middle school) and Town and Country (elementary school),” he added. “Last year, the capital funding was cut so drastically, that I had to cancel major roofing projects.”

Other infrastructure deficiencies Torrey mentioned are obsolete drinking fountains and outdated toilets and urinals. “Because the drinking fountains toilets and urinals are so outdated, it’s getting more and more difficult to find parts so we can make the necessary repairs,” said Torrey, who has more than 20 years experience in construction.

With voter approval, the school district will issue two bonds - purchased by investors – to fund the list of projects that have been on hold because of the capital funding cuts.  

“We’ll have two bond sales and if approved, our bonds will be paid back over 22-years from the time they’re sold,” explained Hagerl.

Across the state, school districts are turning to voter-approved initiatives in the form of bonds and overrides to generate additional tax revenue to fund projects and operations. These bonds and overrides are tools local communities can use to fund local schools above what the state allocates.

Dockter, who along with planning committee member Pete Huisking, has been presenting information about the bond election to different organizations throughout Sierra Vista. “We’ve probably given 30 presentations and so far, we’re getting a good response from the community as we present to different groups,” he said.

 

One of the questions that comes up is how much the bond will cost property owners, Dockter noted.  “Looking at the average home owner in Sierra Vista, with an assessed value of around $148,000, the property tax is expected to increase by about $7 a month,” Dockter said. ($84 more property taxes per year for 22 years. For $250,000 of assessed value will add $140 more  for a total of $3,100 over the life of the bond --Ed)

 There also are questions about oversight and knowing how the funds will be spent.

“We understand that this is a lot of money and we will have a bond oversight committee made up of community members,” said Hagerl. “There will be quarterly reports about how the bond dollars are being spent. We will be doing all of this completely in the eye of the public, they will see the results.”

If the bond is not approved, SVUSD will be forced to rely on continued state funding and risk further disrepair at different school sites, Dockter warned. When essential facility repairs need to be made, it would require the district to tap into educational operational funds, which could result in personnel reductions and impact other programs.  

“Several schools across the state already have bonds in place, but Sierra Vista’s last bond, which was used to fund Buena High School in 1991, was 25 years ago,” Dockter said.

If the bond is approved, the district will move forward with a request for proposal for an architect, Hagerl at the first of the year. The first bond sale is expected to go out sometime in March, with funding available in May to start working on infrastructure upgrades during the summer when students are on break.

Just The Facts

How will the bond money be spent?

·      Fire, life and safety improvements      $1.4 million.

·      Roofing – 780,000 square feet             $2.1 million.

·      Asset preservation                                $.5 million.

·      Major building systems upgrades       $2.5 million.

·      Interior finishes                                     $.7 million.

·      Remodel or renovate space                 $1.5 million.

·      Exterior/infrastructure/parking          $.7 million.

·      New construction projects                   $6.3 million.

·      Furniture, fixtures and equipment      $.6 million.

·      Instructional technology                       $7.4 million.

·      Transportation – new buses                $5.1 million.

Total:                                                          $28.8 million

Just The REAL FACTS

The costs that are hidden in the breakdown above that are not for health, fire, or safety are shown below in order of their priority of importance as recommended by consultants Orcutt/Winslow.

Remove portables at Bella Vista,, Village Meadows, Support Ops (district wide)                                         $90,000

Upgrade District Technology-Computers for all grades 3-2 district wide                                                $7,400,000 1

Football Field-paving access to bleachers from walkway across grass- ADA issue -Buena                      $20,000

Football Field- track replace gravel with ADA compliant surface materials-Buena                                     $80,000

New Kitchen/cafeteria/Multi-purpose room w/stage, 8 classroom additions,replace BB court-PDS   $2,480,000 2

Renovate existing cafeteria into MPR room for Music Art-PDS                                                                     $110,000 3

Transportation - New vehicles, equipment, fleet maintenance improvements  (district wide)               $5,100,000 4

High School Theater-Exterior work area and storage expansion for theater-Buena                                   $340,000

Male, Female practice gym w/basketball, wrestling, weight room, Dance w/dressing room shower-Buena           $2,750,000 5

Library Reno/re-model-computer lab/multimedia area/new carpet,furniture-Joyce Clark MS                $190,000 6

Construction of new multi-purpose room - 5,100 sq ft -Village Meadows                                                    $720,000

Buena Theater - new carpet in seating area and new Main curtain                                                                 $70,000

Capital furniture, fixtures, equipment - district wide                                                                                       $400,000 7

Flooring/carpet replacement program for halls/classrooms - district wide                                               $220,000 8

Service chillers as necessary- replace pumps, clean/polish tubes to extend life- Buena                          $180,000

                                                                                                                                           TOTAL $20,150,000

1.  Children are already over stimulated with technology averaging about 3 hours a day. Is adding additional 6 hours a day before a computer screen really beneficial?  All textbooks will be added to the computers which will make parental oversight difficult.  Computers will need to be replaced every 3 years, if not more often, but will be paid for over 22 years. 

2.  With declining enrollment in the elementary schools it is a wise investment to  build additional buildings and make alterations to existing buildings as opposed to consolidating schools??  

3.  This is an unnecessary expense if the new cafeteria is not built. Perhaps it would be less expensive to renovate the current cafeteria  rather than building a total new building.

4.   $5 million investment in new buses and maintenance to be financed for 22 years does not make fiscal sense. 

5.   New gym for the high school.  With declining enrollment and resulting decline in State revenue support this is just part a "spaghetti plan" to throw in all the wish list items because this is an all or nothing bond issue. If the health, safety and fire safety items are truly important to the District these "spaghetti" items would not be included.  This is called "bait and switch."

6.  If all the students are getting computers then what is the purpose of a computer lab in the middle school????

7.  Another expenditure for items that have a useful life of only a few years but will be financed over 22 years

8.  Flooring for all the schools is more of the "spaghetti plan" Why not include this.... it is only money..YOUR money.

 

The bottom line of many of these expenses is the useful life is no more than 10 years for items that will be out of service in 10 years, but will still be a debt to the taxpayers for an additional 12 years.  Our population in Sierra Vista and Cochise County has been declining for the last 5 years. We have the dubious distinction of being the ONLY county in the United States that has declined for that long.  That means that fewer people are paying property taxes and also means property taxes will necessarily increase if this trend continues.

 

These bonds are required to be paid at a specific amount annually.   There is nothing in the foreseeable future that should give anyone the idea that the proposed  $7 per month/ per $100 of assessed value increase in property taxes will not also necessarily increase as well.  

 

The life of the bond is 22 years.  When you go to the polls, or complete your early ballot, remember that over half of this bond ($12,900,000) is for items that will need to be replaced in 3 to 10 years but you will be paying for those items for 12 to 19 years AFTER they no longer exist because this is a "spaghetti plan" to spend your tax dollars. 

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