Dick Spotswood: Tam Union bond proposal promises to test taxpayer patience

By DICK SPOTSWOOD | spotswood@comcast.net |
October 7, 2023 at 10:50 a.m.

Tamalpais Union High School District is aiming to place a facilities improvement bond on the March 5 primary election ballot.

The district website indicates the measure, including interest and principal, will cost residents over $1 billion. Of that, $517 million is for principal. The remainder is debt service incurred over the bond’s 30-year term.

If passed, it will levy a real estate parcel tax of $30 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value.

One billion in bonding costs might be the largest total ever requested in Marin. It calls to mind the quote attributed to the late Illinois Republican Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen. Of the federal budget, Dirksen said, “A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money,”

School bond passage requires a 55% supermajority. TUHSD encompasses Ross Valley, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Corte Madera and Southern Marin. The high schools include Archie Williams, Redwood, Tamalpais and the small special-needs campuses of San Andreas and Tamiscal.

The Redwood Bark, a student newspaper, reports, “Bond proceeds will go for mechanical, electrical, plumbing infrastructure upgrades and new arts, music and cafeteria buildings.” The exterior of the district’s Larkspur headquarters building will also be modernized.

Before a delay related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that the cost of every item listed in TUHSD’s long-range facilities master plan would be $394 million. Trustees were recently startled to learn that construction expenses are now $517 million, a 25% increase. [Read Full Article Here]

CO$T is urging TUHSD take the following actions:

– Reduce and refocus the bond measure on the small set of truly urgent projects.

– Disclose the REAL cost of the over $1 billion tax measure in the 75 word summary statement that voters see on the ballot.

– Await voter approval before spending any more district funds on the bond project. Trustees have already contractually committed over $6 million to architects and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for political consultants, polling, mailers to voters promoting the proposal’s benefits, and a new staffer hired to manage the bond project.

Voice your opinion by emailing TUHSD’s Trustees or speaking at a hybrid format meeting.
Upcoming meetings are at 6PM Tuesday October 10, October 24 (when the agenda will include the latest polling on the proposed tax measure), and November 14 (when Trustees will likely vote on a resolution to place the bond tax measure on the March ballot).

Email TAM Union Directors & cc info@costmarin.net
Please don’t forget to cc us! This keeps us in the loop.

Karen Loebbaka, President

Leslie Harlander, Clerk

Cynthia Roenisch

Kevin Saavedra

Emily Uhlhorn

Dick Spotswood: Tam Union bond proposal promises to test taxpayer patience