Center Of Community Life School Project In Dire Straights
Bonds Crash, Project In Jeopardy
Emery School District officials announced Wednesday evening that bond funding for the Center of Community Life, school/community center, has been slashed some 50% due to Emeryville's sliding assessed property valuation, the metric upon which bonds are issued. At the State mandated Citizens Oversight Committee for the project, district officials told shocked committee members last night that the publicly funded $120 million project has now been reduced to a $65 million project. After the portion of city redevelopment money is taken out, the picture is even more bleak; the actual school building portion of the project has been reduced from $95 million down to $40 million.
School District officials tried to contain the exasperation rising from the attendees at the meeting by announcing the project is still going to be built, but at a significantly reduced scale. The Superintendent of the schools, Debbra Lindo indicated the controversial "co-location" idea, the abandonment of Anna Yates Elementary School in favor of one large school campus, is still on track regardless of the bleak news.
Officials told committee members that this new bond funding reality was based on keeping the $60 per $100,000 valuation ration promised to voters. They indicated more money could be raised but at the expense of the ratio and that would raise the overall financing cost to taxpayers, already at the upper limit of what is generally considered acceptable.
City and school district officials poo-pooed concerns from the community and experts about the effect the sliding property valuation would have on the bond funding for months prior to the Measure J school bond vote last November. Bond analysts, the Oakland Tribune and even the Tattler raised warning flags but they were swept aside by officials in the run-up to the election. A rosy picture about assessed valuation was presented to the people of Emeryville to sell the Measure regardless of the warnings, now raising the questions of who knew what when.
The District has already spent some two million dollars on the project.
The Tattler will present an expanded edition to this story in the days ahead as more facts are uncovered.