Pros and Cons of Peralta Community College District Measures E&G

Peralta Community College District MEASURE E

Requires two-thirds vote for passage
Peralta Colleges Education Renewal Measure – Parcel tax

Ballot question:
Measure E: To continue providing the colleges of Alameda, Berkeley, Laney, and Merritt, funds that cannot be taken by the state to support affordable college education, including core academic programs to prepare students for university transfer and successful careers, by providing tutoring and teacher support; shall Peralta Community College District continue to levy $48 per parcel annually for eight years, providing $8,000,000 annually, with internal and citizens’ oversight, no funds for administrative salaries, and all funds benefitting local colleges?

The situation:
In 2012, voters approved Measure B, a $48 parcel tax for to fund academic programs in the Peralta Community Colleges; the tax will expire June 30, 2020. Oversight has been provided by a committee that had been created to review capital expenditures authorized in an earlier bond measure.

Faculty, staff, and the chair of the oversight committee complain that since 2015, expenditure reports have been deficient, and that funds have been increasingly directed to central office and non-academic functions. Audit reports have found expenditures to be “appropriate,” while critics charge that auditors were provided selective information.

The 2020 California primary will be held March 3, 2020.

The proposal:
Renew the $48 parcel tax effective July 1, 2020, and expiring June 30, 2028. The measure requires an annual report stating the amount of money received and expended from parcel tax proceeds, and the status of projects and programs funded by the parcel tax. Also required are two-year expenditure plans developed by staffs of the colleges and approved by the Board of Trustees every October. Oversight is provided by a parcel tax oversight committee.

Arguments for:
Measure E protects affordable higher education and job preparation without raising taxes.
Money cannot be spent on administrators’ salaries, and must augment current expenditures.

Arguments against:
Since 2025 parcel tax dollars have been misused, and academic expenditures have been reduced.
More transparent financial procedures and reporting should be implemented before a new tax measure is approved.

Peralta Community College District MEASURE G

Requires 55% vote for passage
Peralta Colleges Upgrade Measure – Bond authorization

Ballot question:
Measure G: To upgrade aging classrooms, technology, science labs;expand job training classrooms; and acquire, construct, repair sites/facilities/equipment, shall the Peralta Community College District issue $800 million in bonds at legal interest rates, with approximately $44.2 million in taxes raised annually for forty years at projected tax rates of $24.50 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, with no funds for administrator salaries, audits and citizen oversight, and all funds used locally?

The situation:
The Peralta Community College District comprises Laney College, Merritt College, the college of Alameda, and Berkeley City College. They offer associate degree programs, courses for transfer to four-year colleges, and a variety of job training and technology programs. Many of their aging facilities are in need of repair and renovation, and technology and job training facilities must be constantly updated to prepare students for today’s workplaces.

The proposal:
Authorize the Board of Trustees to issue series of bonds to fund capital expenditures over the next forty years. Interest rates and repayment periods can differ for each series, according to market conditions and the ability to schedule projects at the time a series is marketed. Bond proceeds will be placed in a special fund to be used only for the projects enumerated in the ballot measure.

Measure G provides for an oversight committee of specified qualifications to avoid conflicts of interest. The Board must conduct independent performance and financial audits to ensure appropriate use of funds.

Incorporated in Measure G is a list of projects at each campus as well as improvements that will carried out on a district-wide basis.

Bonds will be repaid from ad valorem property taxes collected for 40 years. Tax rates are expected to be $24.50 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value.

Arguments for:
Peralta’s aging facilities are in need of repair, renovation, retrofitting, and replacement. Certain facilities need to be constructed or expanded to meet the need and demand for up-to-date program offerings to meet the needs of the district’s diverse student population.

No arguments were submitted against Measure G.