Steve Petzold | Demand Accountability from COC

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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As reported in The Signal, the trustees at College of the Canyons recently authorized the sale of $95 million in Measure E bonds. The issuance of these bonds will increase property taxes in the Santa Clarita Valley.

In spring 2016, I formed the Taxpayers Against Measure E committee to oppose passage of Measure E. Much of my opposition was based on the fact that I felt the estimated payment in the tax statement and L.A. County’s impartial analysis was unrealistically low ( $15 per $100,000 assessed valuation). An independent financial expert hired by The Signal prior to the election shared the same opinion.

It has become a common practice among school districts hoping to pass bond measures to understate the estimated repayment rate before the election because it is impossible to reverse a school bond approval once the results are certified. There is no consequence for misleading the voters.

Fast forward to fall 2022. The trustees have already issued $135 million in Measure E bonds (2017 and 2019) and our 2022-2023 tax bill will reflect a payment rate in excess of $14. I reviewed video of the trustees’meeting and was shocked that none of them asked their financial advisor (ISOM) the estimated repayment rate. A presentation package prepared for the trustees, but not available in the agenda packet for the public review, raised serious questions for me.

How can the trustees authorize this issuance, in a high-interest-rate environment, with a reasonable expectation that the $15 promise will not be broken? Why was there such disinterest in asking the “experts” the estimated repayment rate at the Aug. 10 meeting? My deep skepticism increased after I read an unsigned September 14 FAQ on the COC website that referred to the $15/$100,000 as a “political pledge.” Say what? I assume the trustees had their legs and fingers crossed when they voted to place Measure E on the 2016 ballot.

A trustees meeting is scheduled for Oct. 12 and an item on the agenda will be to review and reconsider the Aug. 10 decision.

My position is that the trustees should reverse their decision to issue these bonds if there is a reasonable expectation that the promise of $15/$100k for the entire Measure E issuance is exceeded. The “political pledge” of $15/$100k should be honored. 

Families in the SCV are facing difficult and uncertain economic times. Our budgets are stressed. The real estate market has shifted. This is not the time to raise taxes while the district still has unused Measure E funds available.

If you agree that a tax increase that violates their “political pledge” is not warranted, send an email to [email protected] and attend the meeting on Oct. 12. Let’s demand honesty and accountability from the trustees who represent us.

Steve Petzold

Santa Clarita

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