Monday, June 25, 2012

The Weber School District’s $65 Million Bonding Proposal - Another Issue on Tomorrow's Primary Election Ballots

A $65 million bond issue slam dunk... or will it be back to the drawing board for the Weber School District?

There's one more ballot issue we'd like to address this morning, as we stand on the cusp of tomorrow's Utah Primary Election. An examination of tomorrow's Weber County primary ballot reveals that there's an important public bonding issue which has somehow wriggled onto the ballot, i.e., Weber School District’s $65 million bonding proposal, which would allow the district to build five new schools and update two existing ones. The Standard-Examiner story provides the gist:
 Note: The above-mentioned bond proposal will appear on only the Weber County ballots of those voters who reside in the Weber School  District, of course.

In a circumstance where this new bonding is being "framed" by proponents as a measure which will not raise taxes, it would seem that Weber School District officials have their ducks lined up with tight-fisted Weber County voters who might otherwise drive a stake through the heart of any bonding proposal which would create $65 million in new public debt.  While it's likely, therefore, that this bonding measure will have smooth sailing in tomorrow's balloting, there is at least one fly in the ointment, as set forth in yesterday's Standard-Examiner guest commentary by M. Royce Van Tassell, Vice President of the fiscally conservative and highly-influential Utah Taxpayers Association:
So what about it, O gentle Ones? Is this $65 million Weber County School District bonding proposal essentially a slam dunk? Or will the procedural irregularities and outright trickery which Mr. Van Tassel illuminates convince cash-strapped Weber County taxpayers to reject this measure and force the the school district to reprise this bonding measure "at a later date?"

And what's your individual take on this proposal? Will you be voting for or against it?

Are there any other issues which we've missed?

How about a little reader discussion on this?

30 comments:

Smaatguy said...

Excellent heads up... My thoughts on this are beyond "what" the money is to be spent on but "how" the money will be spent...how much of the last bond money left town...and how much of the new bond money (our tax dollars) will leave town (SLC) this go around? 
The locale politicians want to "stimulate" the local economy yet send millions of these dollars down south to SLC for the most part for construction and design services.  While they tout bringing in a few jobs here and there $65 million dollars or even a portion of it could do just that.  I'm all for competitive bidding and such, but when the locals can't even get a ticket to the dance, it just chaps my hide.  The good ole'boy network is alive and well at Weber School District...don't believe me go check out when the money went for the last go around...and while you are at it check out Weber Human Services and Weber County Library....where's the Chamber in all of this...where is the "Buy Local" crowd?...as $65 million waltz's out the back door?

Smaatguy said...

One more comment...over on the Ogden Valley Forum there's a groovy discussion of how well Weber School District keeps any eye on its (OUR) money...as over 7 months ticked by until someone woke up and realized $325,000 wasn't in the kitty from the land sale of the Valley Elementary School property to Huntsville....surley they will be alot more careful with $65 million, no?

rudizink said...

 ★★★★★

Ogden Lover said...

I live in District 5, I know because I voted early for Jim Hutchins. I chose the Democratic Party primary, and saw only the School Board position and the Congressional Representative on the ballot.

Did I not go an extra page (I didn't think so), or was the School Bond missing from my ballot?

Bob Becker said...

What you seem to be saying is that you're all for competitive bidding so long as local companies submit the winning bids. That's not competitive bidding at all.

rudizink said...

"Did I not go an extra page (I didn't think so), or was the School Bond missing from my ballot?"

Nope.  Everything was kosher in your voting precinct.

Here's the qualifying text which is contained in para #2 above:

Note: The above-mentioned bond proposal will appear on only the Weber County ballots of those voters who reside in the Weber School  District, of course.

Bob Becker said...

I am not a resident of WCSD so I don't have any skin in this particular game. But I did want to point out that the op-ed opposing the bond managed to ignore all the key questions I want answered when I 'm asked to consider approving a schools bond. For example: 1. Is the reason the bond is asked for valid? Does WCSD have a growing school population that requires building new schools, and is the condition of the older schools such that renovation is necessary? Mr. Van Tassell doesn't say. 2. Presuming the answer to the first question is "yes," is the bond to raise a reasonabke sum to complete the job and no more? Are other sources of funding available that would reduce the bond needed? Mr. Van Tassell doesn't say.

Can't help wondering

Bob Becker said...

To continue, can't help wondering if Mr. Van Tassell and his organization simply cast about fir reasobs to oppose any new public debt without regard to whether such may be necessay and in the public's interest. If there is a case to be made that the bond is unnecessary because WCSD does not need additional schools or does not need to renovate its old ones, he has not made it.

rudizink said...

 By way of background, I'll reveal that for several days prior to publishing the above WCF article,  I searched various sites online for opposition articles, and very strangely (I thought), Mr. Van Tassel's guest op ed was the only opposition I found.  Seems Mr. Van Tassel was only concerned narrowly... very narrowly...  with the ideological issues his UTA group promotes; and I concur that he missed all the most important ones.

blackrulon said...

What needs to be considered in awarding this contracts/bids is how the local community will be impacted. A SLC firm will hire mainly employess from SLC. That means they will spend their wages, not in Weber County, but  in SLC. Preferring local companies, if bids are competive, will benefit Weber County and local citizens. Employess will purchase goods from local merchants and pay taxes to local governments.

Bob Becker said...

I understand that, BR. But the public bid laws serve a useful purpose: to make sure when the public pays for a project, it gets the best price for it. I suppose a city could write a public bid law that gave preference to locals, but I'm not sure it would stand up to a court test. And I'm pretty sure, based on past experience practically everywhere, that abandoning public bid laws would lead to rampant cronyism [far more than exists now, which, FSM knows, is too much] and cost the public a great deal more in the long run.

blackrulon said...

You certainally make a valid agruement. However you have on the S-E board and this board argued for set asides to help out minority and women owned companies. It is the same principal as asking people to shop at locally owned business. The benefits for the local economy far outweight any miniscule increased costs. I do not know anyone who works for construction in the SLC area. I know several people in the locsal area who work in the construction trades. Support local business.

Bob Becker said...

Reply to BR:

     Set-asides to assist minority business were justified, by those who supported them, on grounds of making restitution to minorities who had been frozen out of such businesses for decades, a kind of "catch-up" provision.  I didn't like the set-aside idea and it often didn't work intended anyway, as [this happened a lot I'm told] white-owned road construction companies for example would hire a minority contractor to "front" the bid, the arrangement being he would then hire the white owned company to do the work, taking in effect a finder's fee. There were other abuses as well.  I understood the valid point minority business owners made about their being unable to compete on an even playing field having been frozen out previously with well-heeled long established white owned companies, but better ways could and should have been found to rectify matters than race-based set-asides.

   No such rationale, however, applies to favoring local firms over out of city [or even out of state] ones.  Again, I don't see, absent sinking the competitive bidding requirement entirely, the rules could be composed to favor locals in such a way that they'd survive court challenge.

Smaatguy said...

No, that is not at all what I am saying.....they often have if not all the time these little "qualifiers" for bidding that allow them to pick who they want...or leave out who they want.  As if no one in all of Weber County is capable of even building or designing something as simple as a bathroom…..

Smaatguy said...

I believe Ogden City has one where if the lowest local is within 5% they can award it...I'll need to verify that.

Smaatguy said...

Its clearly not about "best price"  When they "prequalify" companies to make a list that allows them to choose from that “pre-qualified” list to do work on future projects its not about being competitive…its about CONTROLLING who they want to hand the work to….if you’re not on that list then forget about it…and there are plenty of good companies right here in this community that can do the work….problem is the big boys in SLC have more means to shmo00oz these people.  The fact is the last school in Weber School district designed locally was nearly 20 years ago….as for construction read the following….
 
http://mountainstates.construction.com/features/2010/0901_WeberSchool.asp
 
or page 2 second paragraph…
 
http://www.weber.k12.ut.us/uploads/files/departments/board/ss.111012.pdf
 
or page one paragraph 4  “35% based on price, 65% based on “OTHER CRITERIA”
 
 http://old.weber.k12.ut.us/uploads/files/departments/board/ss.090304.pdf
 
Or page 2, paragraph 2 here….gee I wonder what that “research” turned out to be?
 
http://www.weber.k12.ut.us/uploads/files/departments/board/ss.111012.pdf
 
 
 
or page 2 paragraph 2…”who are the friends”…hmmm that might be revealing
 
http://www.weber.k12.ut.us/uploads/files/departments/board/SSApr12.pdf
 
 
or page 2 second to the last….about same footprint plans that save thousands in design fees....same ones as in SLC I suppose….would be interested in the change order rates on those jobs….
 
http://www.weber.k12.ut.us/uploads/files/departments/board/SSApr12.pdf

Smaatguy said...

Question....why do the online minutes of the Weber County School Board stop at May 2011?

rudizink said...

 Bingo Smaatgy! Thanks for the highly instructive links!

Ogden Valley said...

$325k is just a drop in the bucket, Smaatguy. Win a little, lose a little.

Smaatguy said...

Unfortunately you are correct.

Bob Becker said...

Reply to Smartguy:

Depends on what the criteria for prequalifying are. And of course specs in rfps can be written to eliminate all but a favored bidder. Saw that in university depts wanting to buy particular eqipment from particular vendors  (not at my time teaching  in this state).  Hey, you want to argue that public bid laws are too often abused and corrupted, you won't get an argument from me.  We all recall when the wrong const company somehow managed to win a major road contract and DOT had to re-jigger the specs to take the contract away and give it to the major contributor to the governor instead.  And the $13 million consolation prize that had to be paid to the original winner. But then we're not talking about public bidding laws but their corruption by bid-rigging and other means.  Want to go after that kind of corruption, again, I 'm in your corner.

Smaatguy said...

Reply to Bob Becker:

It's pretty much akin to just that.  Stay tuned.

Smaatguy said...

 Just a little info found on the old web….this is just a small taste of here is where the money has gone on the design end ….You can bet your sweet bottom this will not change this time around...You can bet your sweet bottom this will not change this time around...
Just a little info found on the old web….this is just a small taste of here is where the money has gone on the design end ….You can bet your sweet bottom this will not change this time around...
You can bet your sweet bottom this will not change this time around...

 
http://www.mhtn.com/work/k12ed/listing_ked_ns.html
 
North Ogden Elementary School
Snowcrest Junior High Renovation
Weber School District Facility Assessment
Roy High School Renovation (2 projects)
Bates Elementary School Renovation
Majestic Elementary School Renovation
Weber Alternative High School Remodel
Orion Junior High
Bonneville High School Addition
South Ogden Junior High
 
 
http://www.vcbo.com/web-content/es00.html
 
West Haven Elementary
 
 
Item #1 G  “Appointed”
http://www.weber.k12.ut.us/uploads/files/departments/board/bm.120202.pdf
 
 
Valley Elementary, North Ogden Elementary, South Ogden Jr. High, Green Acres, Kanesville, Country View
http://old.weber.k12.ut.us/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,print,0&cntnt01articleid=229&cntnt01showtemplate=false&cntnt01returnid=57
 
So the “winners” are MHTN, VCBO and NWLA… ALL from SLC….
 
 
Interesting commentary here about selections of contractors and architects….April 20, 2012…
 
http://www.weber.k12.ut.us/uploads/files/departments/board/SpecialBoardMeeting.April2012.pdf
 
 
Interestingly enough is how the community proudly parades the buildings (many publicly funded) of the past with great pride ...Ogden High School, Egyptian Theater, Municipal Building, Weber County Library, Eccles Building, Forest Service Building, First Security Building and a number of others all completed by locals….my  how time has changed that….

 
 

Deborah Eddy said...

I'm confused - can anybody clarify something for me asap?  I'm going to vote after work.  The S-E article stating the benefits of the $65 mil bond proposal says this would not result in a tax increase.  However,  the sample Weber County ballot says the following about it:PROPERTY TAX COST OF BONDSIf the bonds are issued as planned, an annual property tax to pay debt service on the bonds will be required over aperiod of 21 years in the estimated amount of $37 on a $193,000 residence, and in the estimated amount of $67 on abusiness property having the same value.

rudizink said...

As the Weber District spokesman, Mr. Taggart, says, according to the above-linked SE story,  "The new debt will be cycled in as old debt is retired."

Deborah Eddy said...

Thanks, Mr. Taggart, for getting back to me so quickly!  That helps a lot.

Smaatguy said...

Deborah...on thought your question brings to my mind is sure, its not raising taxes...it just maxes them out and they will raise them for some other need...that way they can say the bond mever rased them....wallaaaa

Deborah Eddy said...

oops, sorry!  I should have thanked rudizink, not Mr. Taggart :)

Deborah Eddy said...

Hi, Smaatguy - I still feel a bit uneasy about this.  Instead of replacing one debt with another, wouldn't our taxes go down if we didn't recycle in a new debt as the old debt is retired? I'm not politically savvy, so maybe I'm oversimplifying things...

Smaatguy said...

One would think...these entities dont think that way...they think debt ability is some sort of cash cow me thinks

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