Guest editorial: Another reason to support the bond
October 31, 2015
I nearly tripped over the realization of why our YES vote on the bond for PCSD improvements is critical to the success of the plan, overall.
Last week, I was in a meeting with several other parent volunteers, teachers and administrators at JRES, when someone brought up the fact that we are an "equalization" district, which means our tax dollars support not only our district, but 18 other districts in Utah. "Wait!" I interrupted. "If the bond doesn’t pass and the board decides to move ahead with a tax levy, wouldn’t those tax dollars expand the pool of funds available for the legislature to use for equalization? Would the bond create restriction around the funds?" None of us knew the answer. So, I reached out to JJ Ehlers, who represents my precinct within the PCSD. Her response was nearly immediate (And, it’s worth noting that in all my interactions with her, JJ has either responded within minutes, or within hours, apologizing — unnecessarily — for the delay.)
The short answer is yes, and the long answer is yes. The bond is a legal agreement between the school district and the bonding institution, much like a mortgage, so the state has no legal right to touch that money. I’m not a legislative tax expert, but I do know the legislature can’t touch the bond. The legislature did take a significant amount from our property taxes last year. Last year it came out of the M&O budget, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come from the Capital budget next year.
The bond creates a necessary restriction of these funds. It is critical to properly funding these improvements, and critical to keeping as many of our tax dollars in Park City as possible. It’s not realistic to ask the board to start the process anew. Our students don’t have that kind of time. We can’t afford to wait any longer. Students deserve curriculum-appropriate buildings, they deserve to not learn in trailers, long-term. They deserve facilities for arts and sports that they are proud to use and to share with visitors. And there simply isn’t time to waste — not the time already invested in researching the depth of issues and creating plans, not the time it would take to start over.
The tax levy not only sends a bad message — which the board insists they don’t want to send —but it opens us up to the wrong kinds of risks. I not only believe we are making much-needed improvements, but I believe we need to pay for them by bonding for the money.
I can’t speak to every board member’s responsiveness, but JJ Ehlers has made herself available at PTO meetings, in one-on-one interactions, and has spent countless hours addressing constituents’ concerns on the "Nextdoor," website and via email. If you have not yet interacted with the board in one of these ways, to address your concerns, please do. Our students deserve your well-considered vote.
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