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This week, the San Diego Unified School District decided to officially place on the November ballot a construction bond. The measure would increase property taxes by $60 per $100,000 of property owned. So if you own a $400,000 a house, this would be an annual increase of $240.
You’ll have to do that math yourself, though. The school district and its advisors are not going out of their way to describe the impact of the bond.
A couple of months ago, I suspected that if supporters of a San Diego schools construction bond told the voters they were polling how much the bond would cost them individually, the responses they got might not be as positive as they were reporting.
In phone surveys, they were asking people if they’d approve a $2.8 billion bond to repair classrooms, libraries and other facilities, remove asbestos and prevent “additional teacher layoffs.”
It was my belief that omitting from the surveys just how this would actually affect people’s wallets might skew the survey.
Why does their polling matter? Well, it was how much support for a bond the survey found that persuaded the district to go for the highest tax increase possible.
If voters actually were told what that did to their property tax bill, do they hesitate?
Yes, Larry Remer, the consultant running the campaign for the bond measure, told me. It turns out that they did do a poll actually explaining what the measure did to property tax bills. And the results?
“It does hurt us. It drops us down from 66 percent support to 62 percent. We still win,” he said. Unlike a general tax increase that can be used for teacher salaries, a construction bond does not need 66.7 percent of the vote. It needs only more than 55 percent to pass.
Remer’s not going to tell people what it does to their tax bills.
“We don’t have to say that. The Lincoln Club, or Taxpayers Association or something will do that. The ballot language is set,” he said.
Indeed it is. This is what voters will see:
“Shall San Diego Unified School District issue $2.8 billion in bonds at legal interest rates with independent citizen oversight, annual audits, and no money for administrators’ salaries?”
I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO of voiceofsandiego.org. Please contact me if you’d like at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):
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