It isn’t often a property owner can see a reduction in his or her property tax and do a lot of good for the schools at the same time.
But that opportunity presents itself in Measure I on the Nov. 2 ballot.
If approved by at least 55 percent of Atascadero Unified School District voters, the measure would provide $117 million in funding for local school facilities.
The money can’t be taken by the state to balance its own budget, can’t be used for teacher, staff or administrative salaries and benefits and can only be used for those items enumerated on the ballot itself.
I see it as a win for taxpayers and a win for the school district, which says it would use the money to renovate classrooms and school facilities and build new classrooms and maybe even a new junior high school outside downtown, freeing the old property for commercial development.
Under a special property tax approved by voters in 1976, we now pay about $95 for every $100,000 of assessed valuation on our homes. That tax expires next year.
If passed, Measure I would set a new, lower rate of $59 for every $100,000 in assessed valuation to pay back bonds that would fund the facilities work.
Curious, I took a look at my own tax bill for 2008 and 2009. The assessed valuation on my home is just under $200,000. On that bill, I paid $179.54 for the present ongoing override tax that is set to expire.
Additionally, I was assessed $244.14 because I’m hooked up to the city’s sewer collector system. What that means is I pay more for depositing my wastewater than I do on the tax override measure that provides badly needed facilities for every school in the district, as well as computers and other technology we probably don’t even know about yet.
As an aside, I would suggest that the district not build a performing arts center on the high school campus but turn the gym complex at the junior high school into a place for the performing arts. It would be in the middle of downtown and have plenty of room for parking.
But such discussions can’t even take place if we don’t approve this bond.
Funding for schools from the state is going to be questionable over the next few years. We in the Atascadero Unified School District can at least ensure that there will be funding to keep our facilities in good order and provide for the growth that is inevitable.
Reach Lon Allan 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.