EMERYVILLE -- Voters authorized the school district borrow $95 million with a win for Measure J.
Measure J authorizes the Emery Unified School District to issue up to $95 million in bonds, money it can borrow to fund new buildings for the district's two schools. With all precincts reporting, the measure, which needed two-thirds of voters' approval, had more than 73 percent of the vote.
The committee pushing Measure J was headed by Emeryville Mayor Ruth Atkin and Miguel Dwin, president of the Emery Unified School District board of trustees.
Atkin and Dwin said the district's buildings are too old for any more rehabilitation. They argued that now is the best time to launch large construction projects because the poor economy has driven building prices down.
While no one filed an opposition statement against the measure with the county registrar in time to be included in the voter information books, many residents said they felt the measure had been pushed quietly to dodge acknowledging how expensive the money could be to pay back. Emeryville resident Liz Altieri said she and other locals were skeptical about the project's size.
"The first $45 million of that bond is affordable by the current tax-assessed base," said Altieri, an emeritus board member of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce. "We can repay the bond over 25 years, which is normal, and I think we should support our schools."
As the measure was written, Altieri said, the city asked for too much money at a time when property owners are ill-equipped to take on the extra costs.