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  • Tuesday, February 13, 2018


    OUSD 8.78% tax hike on agenda

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD      
    a news service of
     Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    Deligianni spends and  taxes
    OUSD will vote to increase taxes 8.78% on new residential and business construction

    At the Thursday, February 15, 2018, Orange Unified School Board meeting,  Board President Dr. Alexia Deligianni-Brydges will bring forward votes for a politically tainted $213,473 Public Relations contract and a vote for an 8.78%*  tax increase.

    After a lengthy process at the request of the OUSD Board to select a PR Firm, at their January 18, 2018, the OUSD Board rejected the staff recommendation to award the public relations contract to VMA Communications.    Instead, the Board directed the OUSD Administration to negotiate with Communication Labs of Orange for the contract worth hundreds of thousands of educational tax dollars. 

    Agenda Item 12 C on February 15, 2018, OUSD Board Agenda is to approve a contract for the politically connected local public relations firm Communications Lab. 

    Trustee Barrios
    Communication Lab's owner is Arianna Barrios, a Trustee for Rancho Santiago Community College
    Aside from the Rancho Santiago College's close ties and working relationship with OUSD, Barrios has other cozy connections to OUSD and its Board members. Barrios served on the OUSD Gifted and Talented  Education Community Advisory Committee and the OUSD Legislative Coalition (LegCo).  Barrios serves on the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Orange which coordinates closely with OUSD and has given financial support to the district, most notably with the district's Fred Kelly Stadium. 

    In 2008, Barrios made an unsuccessful run for OUSD Area 6 Trustee and was endorsed by both OUSD Trustees Kathy Moffat and John Ortega.  Unless  Moffat and Ortega recuse themselves from the contract vote, both will be voting on the Barrios contract this week. Moffat is one of four OUSD Trustees up for re-election in November 2018.

    At the January 18th OUSD Board Meeting,  Board President Dr. Deligianni-Brydges led a conversation on rationales for hiring a public relations firm. Citing declining enrollment in OUSD, combined with the loss of OUSD students to other districts-especially Tustin Unified- Trustees and staff said a public relations firm was needed for a campaign to keep OUSD Students in the district.

    OUSD has been very aggressive in retaining students who live in the district. An example is a recent move by Panorama Heights residents to break away from OUSD to join Tustin Unified.  

    Last year (for the second time) Panorama Heights residents petitioned to leave Orange Unified and join Tustin Unified.  In September 2017, after holding two public meetings, the Orange County Committee on School District Organization voted to allow an election to move forward for a Panorama Heights vote on whether to join Tustin Unified. The loss of Panorama Heights students to Tustin was forecast by OUSD to cost the district's budget  $700,000 a year.

    The election, however, is now on hold after a legal move by OUSD that will delay an election for years.  OUSD appealed the county ruling to the State Board of Education. With the current backlog in Sacramento, a date for the appeal is not expected for at least three years.  The delay involved with the appeal will save the OUSD budget around $2.1 million if the election had proceeded and the Panorama Heights area voted to leave OUSD.  In three years,  high school construction under Measure S should be well underway with portions of new construction potentially finished. Many of the petitioners may also have moved past the desire to leave OUSD.

    OUSD to vote to increase local taxes (school fees)  8.78%*
    Every two years, the State Allocation Board (SAB) recalculates "school fee"  taxes that school districts are allowed to level on new construction. A district's Trustees must vote to implement the tax increase. The taxes are maintained in a special account to use for building new schools or improvements to current schools. The school taxes are often called "development fees" or the "development tax", but they are a government tax.

    In January of this year, the State Allocation Board authorized a bi-annual "adjustment" in the tax. After tax increases are authorized by the SAB, state law then requires school districts who want to increases taxes locally to vote to increase the tax.   The new increase becomes effective 6o days after a school board approves the new tax rate. 

    The current SAB authorization and the OUSD Board resolution hike the residential development tax 8.78%* to $3.79 per square foot of residential buildings and $0.61 per square foot for commercial/industrial buildings.  The new tax rate calculates to $3,790 per 1000 square feet of homes and $ 610 per 1000 square feet for commercial ( a new 10,000 square foot industrial building would have a tax of $ 6,100).

    In 2014, the last time the SAB authorized hikes the SAB raised the allowable tax at first 1.05% then readjusted it upwards to 3.5%.  The 2014 taxes were  $3.48 per square foot for residential and $0.56 for commercial/industrial.

    On February 2, 2018, OUSD ran the required notice for the public hearing and vote on the OUSD tax increase.  (see the PUBIC HEARING NOTICE  link at the bottom of the post).
    OUSD Agenda Item 12 C (page 34)  for the February 15th meeting includes the resolution to "INCREASE THE STATUTORY SCHOOL FEES" (taxes).  The Tax Resolution, by law, must lay out the justifications for the tax increase. 

    The OUSD Tax Resolution in Section 13 allows for 3% of all taxes collected to go to "administrative costs" caused by the collection of the tax.

    Page 1 ( Agenda page 36) of the OUSD Tax resolution cites two state requires justification studies, one on residential and another on the commercial. The studies are mandated for a district to raise the developer tax. Among the legal requirements, the studies need to address is "(2) the need for school facilities" and "(e) an evaluation and projection of the number of students that will be generated by new residential development".

    Section 10 on page two of the OUSD Tax Resolution states a reason for the increase in taxes is "the School District does not have sufficient student capacity to serve the students generated by such new" developments.

    For over a decade, OUSD has actually closed school facilities and been in a process to sell off district property designated for new schools as "surplus property".  The February 15th Agenda includes a Closed Session item (Agenda Item 4 C) for further price negotiations on selling the surplus Killerfer Site.  When Trustee Timothy Surridge was Board President, the conservative majority went to great lengths to point out the OUSD demographics studies showed declining enrolment. Surridge met with community groups across Greater Orange telling them that OUSD would not need any of the surplus school sites, including the Peralta site for future schools. Surridge and his trustee allies' plans for high-density apartments on the surplus site caused a firestorm of neighborhood and voter opposition. 

    The OUSD Administrators and the OUSD Board have made the declining enrollment the main reason for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on President Deligianni-Brydges request for a public relations firm.  The OUSD Budget leaders have since last year had a doomsday budget scenario that primarily puts the blame on the narrative of declining enrollment.

    Section 5 on Page 2 of the OUSD Tax Resolution states that the current schools (yes the ones with declining enrollment) cannot handle new students from any future development: "There is not sufficient capacity in the existing School Facilities to accommodate all additional students".

    Measure S supporters may be surprised to learn that Page 3 Section 8 of the Tax Resolution states that the new taxes can be used for " accusation for additional School Facilities" and for "remodeling existing School Facilities to add additional classrooms and technology" and "remodeling of existing School Facilities". The money can also be used for the district office facilities: as well as any required "central administrative and support facilities".

    The latest OUSD Budget figures show that OUSD's current surplus reserves (called "Unaudited Actuals ")  are $52.6 million. 

    Ironically, it will be two of OUSD's self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives who will sign the Tax Increase Resolution: Dr. Alexia Deligianni-Brydges and Timothy Surridge:

    Signature page for OUSD Tax Resolution for an 8.78% tax hike-Agenda page 42

    So it appears that the OUSD Board and Budget makers are trying to have their cake and eat it too:

      For more information Click on the links below:

    OUSD Website section devoted to Developer Fees:
    (as of this posting- none of the website links in this section worked)

    Continue to provide fiscal responsibility for taxpayers, and fighting for continued strong fiscal oversight. I will never vote to raise your taxes.-  Dr. Alexia Deligianni campaign promise 2012

    Lorzano Smith ESQ info on State Allocation Board (SAB)

    NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING February 14, 2018
    Next OUSD Board Meeting -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    CLOSED SESSION- 5:00 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 7:00 pm

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015

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