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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 6:36 pm | Fair 55º


Letter to the Editor: ‘No’ on Santa Ynez High School Bond Measure K

If you had $5 million in savings and needed to make critical repairs on your home or business, would you take money out of the bank to make the repairs? Or would you go to friends and plead your case for them to pay for the repairs so you don’t have to?

No brainer, right? You would pay for the repairs out of your rainy-day savings and not intrude on friends to solve your problem.

But then, on the way to the bank to pull out the money, a firm specializing in convincing other people to pay for your repairs shows up and says, “Hey, don’t use your funds. We can get your friends to take up a collection so you won’t have to deplete your savings. In fact, you’ll never have to pay them back, and you can spend your money on things you’d rather have. You don’t even need to pay us for our services.”

Smell funny? Without too much of a stretch, this scenario is essentially what’s happening with Measure K, the Santa Ynez High School bond.

Money keeps accumulating in the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District unrestricted reserve fund – – $4.4 million for 2016/17 (a 39 percent reserve on an annual operating budget of approximately $11 million). The reserve fund is projected to grow to over $5 million in 2017-2018. The state’s minimum reserve requirement is 4 percent.

While the school infrastructure needs repair, and the district has the money to begin the most critical work, it has chosen not to dip into its reserves and address the need. Instead, the district engaged bond consultants and lawyers from San Francisco. These firms provide free pre-election services in exchange for the district’s promise to select them as the contractors to provide post-election services.

Four years ago, when asked to pass Measure L to make critical school infrastructure repairs, voters turned it down. Four years later, we’re being asked to pass Measure K to make the same repairs. Why has the district neglected addressing these issues via its normal operating budget when it has excess reserve money?

I’m a passionate supporter of education with an understanding of how budgets work. Maybe there’s a better way of getting the district back in shipshape. I suggest starting with good faith on the part of the Board — using existing funds to make progress before asking taxpayers for more money. Vote no on Measure K.

Michelle de Werd
Los Olivos

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