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School Board Slams La Mesa’s PBID: ‘Not Even Consulted or Involved’

La Mesa-Spring Valley district property on Date Avenue could face $7,700 annual assessment.

A skeptical La Mesa-Spring Valley school board balked Tuesday night over the so-called downtown PBID when a La Mesa official discussed the tax-raising plan at the board’s Date Avenue headquarters.

Chris Gonzales, the city’s community development program coordinator, was lectured when he presented the effort to raise property taxes in The Village and nearby areas.

“The district was not part of the original so-called stake-holder process, and now we’re going to be assessed like a stake holder,” said board member Rick Winet. “There are just numerous reasons why the district is against this, but the genesis is that we weren’t even consulted or involved.”

Brian Marshall, superintendent of the K-8 school district, shared Winet’s surprise, saying a phone call in early January from La Mesa City Manager David Witt was the first he’d heard of the district’s involvement—despite 14 public meetings of the PBID committee.

“As the seventh-largest property holder, how could we have been missed?” Marshall asked Gonzales, the city’s liaison to the PBID Formation Committee.

Like others downtown, the district is being asked to sign a petition seeking a vote to determine whether property owners and residents should tax themselves. The revenue would go toward a variety of physical and service improvements, plus marketing and management costs.

The Warren T. Hogarth Education Center, the district headquarters on Date Avenue, would be subject to a $7,700 annual assessment under the PBID formula, giving the district a weighted vote in a PBID election of 1.99 percent.

By comparison, the city of La Mesa is the largest property holder—weighing in at 16 percent.

According to Gonzales, the improvements would affect only the public areas around the property. Maintenance services would include litter pickup from the curbs, gutters and sidewalks, as well as beautification, marketing, security and promotion services, among others.

Currently, the district receives what are called baseline services—primarily police, fire and street sweeping—and these would continue even without the PBID.

Marshall said he was happy with the services provided, and that it wasn’t district headquarters that needed additional maintenance but rather the 21 school sites “scattered around the La Mesa-Spring Valley communities.”

Even then, he said, many of the services aren’t really geared toward serving a school district.

“A marketing plan, improved pedestrian access, those sorts of PBID activities, which are great for the core business activities … won’t really necessarily benefit the district,” Marshall said.

And with new state budget cuts looming, an annual tax hike of nearly $8,000 is hard to swallow, the board suggested.

Bob Duff, the board’s vice president, said: “[The city] must be made aware ... that we are in the business of education, with no source of revenue other than what the state gives us. We cannot raise a tax to provide for it, so any source of money that comes out would come out of the educational funds for the kids.”

As a nonprofit entity, the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District isn’t obligated to pay taxes. If operating under PBID law alone, it wouldn’t have to.

However, in 1996, Proposition 218 required entities to provide evidence that they won’t benefit from the improvements being made. Section 4 speaks directly to the PBID assessment process:

Procedures and Requirements for All Assessments. (a) An agency which proposes to levy an assessment shall identify all parcels which will have a special benefit conferred upon them and upon which an assessment will be imposed. The proportionate special benefit derived by each identified parcel shall be determined in relationship to the entirety of the capital cost of a public improvement, the maintenance and operation expenses of a public improvement, or the cost of the property related service being provided.

No assessment shall be imposed on any parcel which exceeds the reasonable cost of the proportional special benefit conferred on that parcel. Only special benefits are assessable, and an agency shall separate the general benefits from the special benefits conferred on a parcel.

Parcels within a district that are owned or used by any agency, the State of California or the United States shall not be exempt from assessment unless the agency can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that those publicly owned parcels in fact receive no special benefit.

However, Gonzales said: “The state Constitution trumps the PBID law, and the state Constitution is fairly clear on the matter.” He later conceded that the district would receive no capital improvements specifically, but would be paying for supplemental maintenance.

“What your challenge would be is: You would need to make a case [for exemption],” said Gonzales, who spoke at the same time a Centennial Town Hall Meeting was also debating the PBID.

He said the district would most likely have to hire an independent assessment engineer, who would analyze the PBID management plan and property.

The agent would then recommend exemption or the possibility of a reduced assessment, much like local churches have received, he said. That report would be reviewed by the city’s assessment engineer and a decision made by City Council.

But, Gonzales said, exempting the school district would mean the city also would have to withdraw from the PBID process as the result of categorical exemption.

Marshall addressed this complication, saying that while the two entities are similar, the city is in a position to benefit from the proposed capital improvements.

“I think there’s a little bit of a catch-22 here, because as a government agency whatever happens to the school district has to happen to the city as well,” Marshall said.

He added that in this case the city is almost certain to see an increase in revenue from parking and other improved infrastructure even though the district won’t.  

The school board now awaits a La Mesa City Council meeting Feb. 28, when the city is set to discuss its position on the PBID as a property owner.

“I believe that with a lot of homework I could create an argument that could exempt us,” Marshall said, while also giving the city “a little bit of wiggle room.”

Bill Jaynes February 08, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Great story, Annie! The District isn't the first property owner to say that it is only now that they are hearing about "PBID", long after all the key decisions have been made. The Board members are exactly right and share the same concerns we've had all along: 1. This scheme is too expensive and in these tough times is just one more burden on Village businesses, residents and non-profits. 2. Far from being open, transparent and grass-roots driven, the PBID "process" has been secretive, stage-managed, and orchestrated by certain elements at City Hall. Our schools are already suffering from falling revenue, cutback and now facing having to reduce instructional days just to make ends meet. We tried to get the Committee to listen to reason and exclude the LM-SV District, but as the article implies, were that to have happened the flimsy excuses used to justify including the Civic Center would also have evaporated. That's why the Mayor fought so hard to keep them inside the boundaries, even going so far as to claim at one meeting "They are TOO every bit a business. They have offices over there that can be rented and bring employees into downtown every day." I hope the Board members stand with the rest of their Village neighbors by refusing to sign the petition. Unless the District relishes spending funds it doesn't have to hire an engineer to state the obvious, the ONLY way forward is to stop the PBID in its tracks at the petition stage and start anew.
Deena While February 08, 2012 at 03:24 PM
PBID has already failed. The people have voted a loud "NO" - by not turning in their petitions by the 1/31/2012 (soft) deadline. This is a mute point. Even if the city of La Mesa votes YES at 2/28/2012 council meeting, adding $60,000 to the petition values, there won't be enough support to pass PBID. In the voice of little children from the backseat of a long car ride, PBID supporters ask again and again, "Are we there yet?" The property owners respond, "YES, we are there and the answer is a loud, firm, NO, we don't want PBID."
Bill Jaynes February 08, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I've attached a PDF above that may help the La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board to convince Ed Henning--the PBID project engineer hired out of parking meter funds that were marketed as intended to fund downtown improvements--that the District won't benefit from the marketing, special events and promotion services ostensibly provided by this scheme and should either be exempted or at least get a drastically reduced assessment. Shortly before the last secret meeting of 2010, Ed Henning, a qualified assessment engineer, wrote to Chris Gonzales (who spoke to the Board last night): "OK - here's the beauty of us "peeking" at the info ahead of time is that - we CAN lower the "government" rate to 50% - which actually is not uncommon in my other PBIDs because they don't really benefit from the marketing, special events and promos like commercial properties do." Hope this helps. And for pure comedy gold, please read the last paragraph of the letter if you still believe official assurances that this whole thing originated anywhere other than City Hall. Bill Jaynes All Things Bright and British 619-464-2298
Komfort February 08, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I wonder if the supporters will get this issue into their FAQ section?
Komfort February 08, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Good grief! I am sure Jenna, in both her capacities, was unaware of this.
Craig Maxwell February 08, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Deena's right, the PBID's stillborn--a victim of staff/committee/mayoral lies and incompetence. And speaking of lies, how could last night's gold medalist be anything other than the one told about the PBID's supposedly popular, "grass-roots" origin? Just a bunch of businessmen brainstorming their way to a better Village--or so the "story" went. Bovine excrement! The PBID now stands fully revealed as the thing it is, and has always been--a steaming political heap, laid on our collective doorstep by eleventy-two term platonic-form-of-small-town-corruption: Art Madrid. Seek no further for PBID failure.
Heather Fox February 08, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I told myself I wouldn't comment on anything on the PATCH anymore because EVERYTHING that is on this site is NEGATIVE. It amazes me how the same group of people can have so much anger and hate built up inside. Its very disturbing. I wouldn't want to do business with someone who displays these characteristics. Komfort its unnecessary to make snide comments about Jenna. What's wrong with supporting something that can be a POSITIVE outcome to this village? She has done nothing to deserve that comment. It would be nice of you to keep her name out of your comments.
Komfort February 08, 2012 at 05:01 PM
It is good you still read the Patch, otherwise you may not get information the supporters leave out. Are you saying I should not suggest Jenna knew nothing about this? Some defense of Jenna you have there. I truly believe Jenna would have known nothing about the content of the email posted above, as evidenced by some of her posts. Do you know something to the contrary?
Bill Jaynes February 08, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Hi Heather! I am POSITIVE that "PBID" would be a malign influence on the character and people who make up the so-far neglected stakeholders" in the Village. Of course, I am also POSITIVE that no self-respecting public servant would ever vote to certify this horror show once the facts buried in the emails I've uncovered see the light of day. Does that count? I was about to write a blog analyzing the many ways in which those emails show that far from being a grassroots project driven by private citizens who just happened upon this mechanism, "PBID" has in fact been treated as a fait accompli by City Hall long before the first invitation-only secret meeting. But you just reminded me--remember when one of the Committee members brought his kids in to conspicuously film me while I was exercising my right to stakehold? I've found some pretty interesting emails about that incident. Should I start there instead, or maybe with the ones covering the downsizing of the Committee after I expressed interest in filling a vacancy? Bill Jaynes All Things Bright and British 619 464 2298
Things I Learned February 08, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Bill Jaynes 7:31 am Komfort 7:31 am http://lamesa.patch.com/blog_posts/where-oh-where-have-the-little-pbid-petitions-gone-oh-where-oh-where-can-they-be#comment_2130478
Things I Learned February 08, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Heather Fox 8:37 pm on Thursday, December 15, 2011 "...I dislike comming on the patch because everything everyone says is so negative...." Heather Fox 8:49 am on Friday, December 16, 2011 "Are you referring to the time he beat you in the mayoral election?" (to Craig Maxwell) Heather Fox 4:05 pm "I know about 10 people that would vote for good ole BJ...." Heather Fox 4:07 pm "Sorry I meant to say I know about aleast 10 people that would vote for good ole BJ...." Heather Fox 9:02 am on Friday, December 30, 2011 "...the individuals that wrote the letter will never own up to it. They are too coward to confess. The only time these people can confess to something is after the fact MAYBE and that's a big MAYBE. They tell you to come down to their shops and talk to them but when they see you on the street they hurry off in the opposite direction..." Heather Fox 8:35 am on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 "I was taught young that even though your point may not be coming across you don't stoop to a lower level. But some people may not value the same morals and standards." Heather Fox 9:33 am on Friday, December 16, 2011 "Kevin.... I believe the point Hope was trying to make is if you’re going to comment on this forum then why hide behind some fake name. If you don't have the confidence to say how you really feel using your real name like "Craig Maxwell" or "Deena While" then why even comment. Its almost like commenting with a coward."
Kevin George February 08, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Exactly Heather! Everything would be SO much easier if everyone would simply agree to see everything my way.
jgogek February 08, 2012 at 06:31 PM
LMSV school board members, and particularly Rick Winet, take a purely political stance regarding the PBID. They do not come at this issue from an educational viewpoint, but only from a Tea-Party anti-tax viewpoint. As such, they should stay out of the entire PBID issue, and nobody should listen to what they have to say on the matter. This school board's Tea-Party anti-tax views have hurt education in La Mesa and Spring Valley, which is badly underfunded. If school board members want to pursue national political strategies that are beyond the purview of their current elected posts, they should resign first to do so. Everyone knows that the PBID will have very little impact on school district property, and the amount the school district might have to pay would be next to nothing. Stay out of it, Rick.
Komfort February 08, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Such hate. You do know that you are driving Heather away? I missed your comment regarding Madrid going "national" on us when he blasted the Keystone pipeline. An oversight, I am sure.
Kevin George February 08, 2012 at 07:39 PM
When you figure out how to prevent politicians from pursuing self aggrandizement through matters that have absolutely nothing to do with their prescribed duties please get back to me because that has been a problem with our local government for decades. Politicians who are guilty of that trait are universal throughout the political spectrum.
Bill Jaynes February 08, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I'm not sure I understand your point, jgogek. According to the article, Brian Marshall and Rick Winet stated the Board was never consulted about "PBID" and was only notified informally this past month (two years after this scam was birthed) that the District was subject to a $7,700 assessment. That is a purely factual claim. What light do your assumptions about their political leanings shed? You say the school board, and particularly Rick Winet, should stay out of the PBID issue, but what does that mean to you? Whether we are talking about $7,700,000, $7,700 or $7.70, don't the Board members have a fiduciary responsibility to see that limited District funds are spent in the best interests of the students it serves? Or when you say "stay out of it" do you really just mean sign the petition, shut up and pay up? You state that the assessment is next to nothing, but also that education in La Mesa and Spring Valley is badly underfunded. I'm not sure your argument coheres. Wouldn't you agree that every little bit helps? Remember, the Board didn't insert itself--once TeamPBID and City Hall (but I repeat myself) realized this won't be the cakewalk they envisioned, they sent an emissary on bended knee to cadge support. It's amusing that some PBID skeptics are attacked as "Tea Party" while others are attacked as "Occupy." Maybe the lesson is that both groups have more in common than our betters want us to realize lest we work together for a change. For REAL change.
Michelle February 08, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Unlike Heather, I love reading the Patch each day. They report on what I am interested in and I agree with the regular commenters who she said have so much anger and hate built up. Anyone who isn't a sheeple would be angry with what is happening in our city. Bill, Craig and Deena keep up the good work. This city needs more sane people like you!
Bill Jaynes February 09, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Thank you for your kind words, Michelle. Believe me, I'd much rather be putting time into making a nice display of fine English chocolates perfectly suited for Valentine's Day gifts. Not only are we stocked to the gills with Cadbury Milk Trays, Thornton Classic selection boxes and Nestle Black Magic for the dark chocolate lover, but I just received a shipment of Cadbury Roses promo boxes with 20% extra for the same price! You know that in England we say it with roses...Cadbury Roses. "PBID" seems like it's on life support now, but, in case I'm wrong, keep in mind that I would need to sell an extra box of Cadbury Roses every day for five years just to pay for some phoney-baloney "administrator" to ignore my calls. Speaking of, since I have a few days until the City Attorney sends me a letter shooting down my Brown Act concerns (just kidding, Glenn!), maybe I can write up a quick post about BOTH the filming and downsizing incidents, if only to reward you for your support. :-) Bill Jaynes All Things Bright and British 619-464-2298 (at the corner of 4th and La Mesa for 30 years)
Things I Learned February 09, 2012 at 01:11 AM
"Creating positive change requires great communications. Without it, the world won’t know the difference between an average idea and a great idea, between ordinary and expert. To achieve your advocacy and policy goals, to inform and influence your target audiences, you need to channel the power of communications. Jim Gogek quickly grasps your objectives and then creates and executes a policy-driven communications strategy for you. He specializes in translating science and research into policy, and policy into clear language. Jim delivers simple, well-structured messages through inspired writing. He understands the needs of all forms of media and knows how to interpret your stories and information into language that appeals to the audiences you want to reach. Whether it’s for a report, a speech, an op-ed, an article, a book, a blog or a pitch, you need a great writer working for you to convince people to support your ideas." http://www.jimgogek.com/index.php
Things I Learned February 09, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Jason 5:01 pm Things I Learned 5:11 pm http://lamesa.patch.com/blog_posts/where-oh-where-have-the-little-pbid-petitions-gone-oh-where-oh-where-can-they-be#comment_2130478
No Bad Government February 09, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Lets see. The City says parking meter revenue will go up from the PBID improvements but we hear no mention of the additional dollars being used to offset the costs of the PBID which without the PBID, no extra money. Seems to me you should use the increased revenues from the meters to go right back into the costs of the PBID. Maybe the City should require its employees to contribute 25% of their cost of health care benefits versus 5% and use the savings to cover the extra services the PBID is supposed to provide.
No Bad Government February 09, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Not that I am for or against the PBID but I am sure the school board and school board employees could figure out a way to save $8,000 from excessive employee benefits and pensions they most likely get. Maybe they should sell their building to a private party so the property would then pay real estate taxes and the School District could lease back the property. Benefits: 1) immediate cash from the sale of the building to the District, 2) City gets property taxes not currently being received. Alternatively, the School District could put financing on their building to raise money and raise needed cash to support their education needs. Interest rates for a property like this could be less than 4% on a 10 yr fixed rate so the cost of financing would not be very much.
Kan Garo O'Court February 10, 2012 at 09:04 PM
It is ok for people to have opinions different than yours, Heather. That does not make them negative. Anti-PBID people have no more hate in their hearts than you do. They are just as passionate for their opinions as you are, which tends to cause "shock value" statements. You are just as guilty of this as anyone else and you know it. As for the Patch remark: you have a media site that supports your cause (La Mesa Today) and we have ours (La Mesa Patch). If you do not care for the opinions of the opposing side, I suggest you stick with your own media site. (I, on the other hand, enjoy hearing both sides and therefore read both sites. I am sorry you do not share the same open mindedness and willingness to read without losing your head.)
Deena While February 11, 2012 at 12:30 AM
I'm joining the volunteer work party tomorrow morning 8am, to "Clean Up the Village". The La Mesa Centennial kick-off is starting next week and we'd like to have the village all purdy so a work party has been organized. I applaud the organizers for realizing that volunteerism really works - and beats the heck out of all those pbid costs! I'm really excited about this!

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