SMMUSD HDQTRS — The school board voted unanimously Thursday night to reconvene a citizen-led committee to look at the possibility of a future parcel tax and bond measure.

The committee, which is authorized to have up to 35 members and $50,000 for polling, last got together for the successful Y and YY campaign, which is supposed to bring almost $5.5 million into district coffers this year from a half-cent sales tax hike.

Although it went idle, it was understood that committee members would come back to discuss the possibility of extra funding measures — a bond, which can be used for capital projects like buildings, and a parcel tax, which can pay for salaries and programs.

Board members stressed that the vote was not a promise, just a precautionary measure to give the district options in case the state budget picture took a turn for the worse.

“I want us to be nimble enough to be able to react quickly and decisively if conditions call for that kind of reaction,” said board Vice President Ben Allen.

Having a recommendation from the committee on hand in case state money — now suggested to be flat from the previous year, rather than severely slashed — falls through would give SMMUSD the flexibility to move forward with a funding measure of some kind, Allen said.

That’s a distinct possibility if Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax extensions don’t get past legislators.

“If the state measure fails, or something like that, I want there to be a structure in place to make that sort of judgment call if necessary,” Allen said. “I don’t want the inevitability of something on the ballot.”

To that end, several board members seemed wary to give the committee the $50,000 for polling on the parcel tax that may or may not see the light of day.

“We should set aside the money because it is prudent, but it’s unlikely that it will be spent,” said board member Laurie Lieberman.

Board members also discussed the composition of the commission, which lost two members when Lieberman and Nimish Patel became board members and has no representation from Malibu.

The support of Malibu residents would be essential to any measure passing, and Lieberman encouraged those who applied for, but did not get on the Financial Oversight Committee to throw their hats into the ring for the parcel tax and bond committee.

Committee members are under significant pressure to get a recommendation out if they intend to get a parcel tax on the November 2011 ballot.

They only have until Aug. 10 to make their findings and report back to the board of education.

Board member Ralph Mechur suggested that the committee focus its energies on the potential parcel tax until that deadline passed, and then move onto the proposed bond measure, which would not be due until early 2012.

Lieberman was hesitant to make any formal request that put off the consideration of bond funding, which will be necessary to finish work on facilities throughout the district, officials said.

Analysis of a bond measure is actually leftover work from the last time the committee convened, and she felt that it was too easy to put off the infrastructure funding for the more immediate need to cover operations.

“It was always supposed to come back together to address capital needs in the district that have not been addressed by BB,” Lieberman said, referencing the $268 million bond measure that is paying for school repairs and renovations.

ashley@www.smdp.com

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *