PITTSBURG -- Voters will be asked this November if they are willing to pay more to help spruce up some of this city's aging schools and add more classrooms to ease overcrowding.

Pittsburg school trustees Wednesday night gave the go-ahead in a 4-1 vote to place an $85 million bond measure on the November ballot. Trustee Joe Arenivar cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he was in favor of a bond, but wanted it to be for $100 million.

The big ticket item that the bond would cover is an estimated $45 million modernization of aging Hillview Junior High School, which was built in the mid-1950s. Also included would be replacing the 15 portables at Los Medanos Elementary School with permanent classrooms, a new multipurpose room at Willow Cove Elementary School and building additional classrooms at Pittsburg High School.

FILE PHOTO---Construction continues at the new Martin Luther King Junior High School in Pittsburg, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.(Dan Rosenstrauch/Staff
FILE PHOTO---Construction continues at the new Martin Luther King Junior High School in Pittsburg, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.(Dan Rosenstrauch/Staff Archives)

If approved by a 55 percent majority of district voters, the tax rate will not exceed $52 per $100,000 in assessed home value. Homeowners in the district are paying $139 per $100,000 in assessed value this year for three previous bonds approved in 2004, 2006 and 2010.

Pittsburg is assuming an annual 4 percent increase in assessed values and no changes to its debt services, officials said.

A March survey of local voters showed that 70 percent would support a $100 million bond measure.

Board Vice President Duane Smith, in looking at his own property tax bill and in anticipation of future reassessed values, pushed for the lower amount to be sensitive to residents.


Advertisement

"I think we have to consider the burden we're putting on the community," he said. "There are a lot of people who are living paycheck to paycheck."

Added trustee Vince Ferrante: "It is real, for those of us who live here and who are homeowners."

Arenivar wanted to keep the $100 million amount to address some of the other identified projects, including work to improve Stoneman and Highlands elementaries.

Three public speakers addressed the board before the vote. A Contra Costa Taxpayers Association representative said the group had not taken a stand on the bond. Two Pittsburg residents who also work for the district spoke in favor of the bond.

If approved, it would be Pittsburg's fourth bond in the past decade.

In 2004, the $40 million Measure E bond funded the modernization of Foothill Elementary School and building of Rancho Medanos Junior High School. Measure J was an $85 million bond that paid for the building of the new Pittsburg High and new continuation high school in 2006.

The most recent bond was the $100 million Measure L in 2010, which is paying for a junior high school, a new Heights Elementary School and a new Parkside Elementary School in a few years.

The district has been able to leverage state funding to lower the cost to taxpayers on the past projects, but to a lesser extent with the most recent bond, deputy Superintendent Enrique Palacios said. It has also refinanced its bonds three times to lower interest rates, he said.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.