NO ON MASSIVE SCHOOL SALES TAX INCREASE 2016

Washoe County voters will be facing a November ballot measure for a massive .54% sales tax increase to 8.26% (higher than Las Vegas and parts of California).

It would cost taxpayers about $87 million a year forever! Currently Nevada state sales tax rate is 6.85 percent—eighth highest in the nation. In Washoe County it’s 7.725 and would jump to massive 8.26% permanently!

I am on the committee drafting the OPPOSITION to the tax. I welcome any input. I can provide more info on request but the $781 million (that's a lot!) figure quoted in the media is simply 100% false. That is the figure proposed by the research group and at meetings I attended but then a bait and switch occurred and the present ballot measure:

1.Never ends- no sunset- billions after the $781 is reached

2.Has no mechanism to shut it off or reduce it after building needs are met

3.Allows SUPPLANTATION (google it): add to the top and take off the bottom

4.Can be used for EXISTING salaries and costs before a dime is spent on new schools.

5.No enforcement measure.

*many taxes allow annual review and adjustment- although of course they always take the max- but this has no way to shut it off!

6. NO STUDY TO JUSTIFY THIS: The $781 figure included a lot of pork and only projected out 9 years. There is no study to justify the tax beyond that.

7. THEY HAVE THE MONEY: The $781 was the cost (pork filled**) for 9 years of school needs. It did NOT say we had a shortfall and did not address where the money comes from, i.e. existing budget, etc...

8.They already have most the money need, it's called SB 207 passed in the last legislature giving them $315 of your property tax (please google it too). So that's half of they need if you cut the pork. Then add in existing funding and increasing revenue and you are about there, especially if you go with private build/sell. Via C Tax and growth and rising property tax etc: the WCSD revenue is already increasing at about $17 million a year, enough to build a school a year.* (see below)

9. Even if it passed today, the "some call it extortion" tactic of double sessions won't be affected. It will be 4+ years before the first school is built and available labor limits us at most building 2 schools at a time!

10. Private Build Sell or lease could save millions and reduce building time by 30% or more.

11. Most growth is in the north-south outlaying areas but still there may be an existing building or two that could be used as has been done elsewhere for govt buildings..

12. The last legislature approved SB302, the E.S.A. (Education savings Account: similar to voucher) program to take off the burden and give parents funds to send kids to private schools.

*They project the cost of schools at $25 million for an elementary, $60 million for a middle school and $135 for a high school! That seems inflated. Can anyone weigh in? With existing property tax dedicating specifically to building/ capital projects, thru 2014 that is enough for ALL their building needs except two high schools. Shortfall (their figure): $280 million.

**Pork: “Inflation escalation – $100M” Cunningham Report page 36. The about 15% of the $781 was “inflation”! If inflation kicks in then cost of goods go up and tax revenue goes up. No need to add this ridiculous figure.

In February 2015 an EDAWN study/editorial said: “For example, a temporary sales tax increase of 1/2 cent for 10 years would get us there,” Now we get a bait and switch with no study to justify it.

What are the alternatives?

1) They already have the money for most the needed building!

2) More revenue may be generated from fund raising and donations.

3) The district can encourage rather than fight Charter Schools, ESAs (vouchers), distance learning, specialized trade skill centers (converted existing buildings), etc.

4) New tax revenues may be obtained from (as done elsewhere in Nevada):

  • Real Estate Transfer Tax
  • Transient Lodging Tax
  • Residential Construction Tax

5) Go back to the legislature for relief via so many options (prop tax depreciation reform, temp cap increase, gas tax, etc

6 ) Improved efficiency and private buy build/lease options. (saving per experts of 22-34%) Under this concept at 25% saving they have all the money they need to build all the new schools projected by the report.

7) Just give us a well written, limited, temporary county sales tax increase that specifically prohibits Supplantation.

SUMMARY: They already have the money, they did a bait & switch and the tax never ends and can't be reduced. Via SB 207 ($315 in prop tax), existing budget and increased annual revenue ($17 million) they have funds already. Charter and private schools (ESA) can provide an alternative. If the need still exists, let's draft a proposal that is adjustable, sunsets and based on a true financial study to justify the need.

I welcome your input ... Jeff Church

Note: Information on referenced Nevada Education Savings Account Program (ESA) may be obtained by clicking here.

A Matter of Credibility!

Can we believe the facts and figures from the Washoe County School District and its supporters and committee members?

Tragically the answer appears to be no. It seems there is a pattern and practice of disinformation and multimillion dollar fluctuating figures and intentional omissions. Also too a sad pattern of stifling public input.

We do agree the schools need more money and there is a problem now that the current board failed to address adequately. In November we have school board elections and expect a whole new set of eyes on the problem and there are many alternatives. An editorial from the Reno News and Review by Sheila Leslie (5-19-16) presents a good argument against WC 1 and summary of the Guinn Report and alternatives. Available on request.


COST OF BUILDING:

The claimed costs of building, for example $135 to $110 million for a high school, are wildly exaggerated. Their own previous claims of $85 million is more reliable based on research.

The board and or committee claim a high cost of school building, i.e. $135 million for a high school. Later I at presentation Mr. Pete Etchart, Chief Operations Officer of the WCSD said a high school was $110 million with corresponding high figures for Middle (MS) and Elementary (ES).

In a RGJ interview for SB 207, Etchart claimed the cost was $85 million (HS), a difference of $50 million. (Reno Gazette Journal, June 10, 2015). His figures for MS & ES are equally fluctuating.

Research shows nothing nationwide at that figure. Even in high cost regulated California the figures are 25% less. Riverside, CA had a HS at $105 million. Elk Grove had an ES at $18.5 million- much lower than the 23-25M figure Etchart uses. $85 M for a high school seems nationally credible with some built for $50 million. We back up our claims, research on request.


The $781 MILLION BALLOT MEASURE:

Claim: At public hearings and interviews “they” repeatedly throw out the $781 million figure as what they need in the “Additional Funding" (Code word for the ballot measure)

Fact: The ballot measure WC1 Never Ends! It is forever with no mechanism to shut it off, it would bring in about 1.5 Billion in the first 20 years regardless of school needs.

In 2015 EDAWN said: “For example, a temporary sales tax increase of 1/2 cent for 10 years would get us there…” In testimony at the Nevada Legislature EDAWN suggested a sunset.

In testimony before the Nevada Legislature, an expert, the Carole Valardo, President of the Nevada Taxpayers Association wanted a 20 year cap on the tax to which on the record: “Joshua Hicks, representing Southern Nevada Home Builders Association: It is always great testifying right after Ms. Vilardo because I can say I agree with everything she said…”

As can be shown that figure if faulty and nowhere in the Cunningham report is it identified as a shortfall.


THE $781 MILLION NEED FALSEHOOD:

Claim: They need 781 million

Fact: In April 9, 2015 testimony at the Nevada Legislature in 2015 WCSD Pete Etchart (supported by others) indicated that SB 207 would fund all existing repair and renovation costs at $25 million a year. At current projections it now looks like that tax will bring in an extra $6-7 million or more yearly. Once again, he said the SB 207 met ALL repair and renovation needs for WCSD. That leaves only future building needs not $781 million.

Again, with the boom, the SB 207 now is expected to bring in an extra $6 million yearly in our taxes for the schools for capital projects.

Etchart further testified that the additional building need was about $50 million a year for 9-10 years, equating $450 to $500 million.

To be clear, before the legislature he said for future building the need was about $45 to 50 million a year, not $781 million ($78 to 87 million yearly).

In a RGJ interview supporting SB 207 (more on that later) Pete Etchart, who now claims the $781 figure, said they only needed $600 million. So the legislature gave him $315 under SB 207 (could be more) in our property taxes so that drops the need to $285 million down the road after they spend the $315 million. So by their statements and math there is NO immediate need- the 2015 legislature gave them that and down the road it is $285 to $435 million depending on which Etchart figure you chose.

Also, WCSD revenues through higher taxes bring in an addition increase of $17 to $25 million yearly. That alone can build an elementary school a year or take care of the entire backlog in present repairs.


Claim: IF YOU DON’T VOTE FOR WC1, WE’LL HAVE TO GO TO DOUBLE SESSIONS.

Fact: False! Some call it extortion. Again please see the RN&R editorial by Ms. Leslie. The fact is they have the money NOW under SB 207 but due to the lag in building Double Sessions may be a reality not related in any way to WC1. However the other falsehood is that decision will be made by the new school board after the election. If we go to double sessions where would we get the teachers? Research indicated the current shortfall for teachers is 40 to 100 positions today! Where would we get teachers willing to get up at 4 AM to teach double sessions?

There are some alternatives too many to mention here but including temp use of other buildings or even the massive convention center! Distance learning, partnerships with Carson and Storey County, the ESA voucher program, weekend classes, etc. Yes there is a crisis but a crisis now regardless of WC1. There are no good answers but it doesn’t relate to WC1 today.


Claim: THE PLAN WAS VETTED WITH THE COMMUNITY

Fact: Vetted apparently means ignored. On the record the community wanted certain guarantees: A sunset, accountability, no Supplantation (please look it up-see below). We got nothing, in writing they said $781 (inflated) over 9 years but at the last meeting (the follow on meetings were cancelled allowing no further dissent!!!) got a “bait & switch” never ending vaguely worded measure you can drive a truck through in mis-spending.

Look it up, the public was to have one last chance to talk to the committee and that meeting of was cancelled.


Claim: A CITIZEN COMMITTEE MUST APPROVE SPENDING

Fact: No. It’s Clintonspeak and shows clearly their intent to confuse the voter. The citizen committee exists at the pleasure of the school board and if allowed to exist, their review and suggestions are advisory not mandatory. The only loose use of the term “must” is before the school board decides, at present; the committee “must” review spending first. I find that deceptive. As Bill Clinton might say, “it depends on what must- must mean.”

Under the concept of Supplantation, any general fund money can be withdrawn without any review.


FINAL THREE COMMITTEE MEETINGS CANCELLED LIMITING PUBLIC INPUT:

The PSONC group had, in writing, scheduled meetings on their calendar to include: March 11, 25, and April 8. The meeting they held where the “bait & switch” (no sunset) occurred, March 4, was not listed on that calendar. It was noticed but after they slipped in the no sunset (not over 9 years) language they cancelled the follow on March 11 meeting that had been noticed and then never scheduled or held the listed March 25 and April 8 meetings. Had they allowed public comment at the next meeting they could have re-thought their positions, instead public comment was stifled.

http://washoeschoolsovercrowdingcommittee.weebly.com/meetings-and-agendas.html

“THE MONEY CAN NOT BE USED FOR …SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS…”

They put in it writing and they are wrong. First existing general fund money can be taken off the bottom and used for administrators pay raises. Then the salaries of administrators (again they get into Clintonspeak) can be transferred to the new WC1 money if their position (or that portion of their position) is related to the “acquisition, construction, repair and renovation of school facilities?”

For example is 25% of Superintendent Davis time is spend dealing with those listed issues, 25% of her $342,000 salary (pay and benefits) could be moved to the new fund. It would seem that 100% of Anthony F McMillen’s (or future) “Director of Construction & Capitol Projects” pay and benefits of $157,913.92 could be so transferred.

Take the example of Mr. William Heinicke, Director of Planning for the fast growing Elk Grove (by Sacramento) School District. After passage of a ballot measure, part of his salary was transferred to the new ballot money.

We encourage you to ask the Washoe County District Attorney, Attorney General, Nevada Department of Taxation, Nevada Taxpayer Association or other legal source for their opinion.

Ask the school district itself for a legal opinion. We did and they had nothing.

WHAT IS THE PERCENT of SALES TAX PAID BY VISITORS?

30%, 25%, 13.7% or less?

It seems less than 13.7%.

In a recent interview a committee member gave a 30% figure. When we asked for verification he retracted the figure lowering it to 25% and directing us to the Nevada Taxpayer Association.

However in the committee’s own report: AGENDA PUBLIC SCHOOLS OVERCROWDING & REPAIR NEEDS COMMITTEE February 4, 2016 – 6 p.m., it lists a figure of 13.7%, less than half the 30% figure given the public.

But wait there is more: that figure assumes all that was spent in Washoe County vs the surrounding rea and it assumes all food was taxable vs grocery. Two highly questionable assumptions.

THESE ARE JUST A PARTIAL LIST OF THE CREDIBILITY AND SPENDING ISSUES WE FOUND WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND OTHER SPOKESPERSONS. MORE INFO ON REQUEST OR AT:

www.RenoPublicSafety.org

Supplantation: Add to the top, take off existing non dedicated money from bottom and or transfer existing administration salaries to the new fund. WE HAVE LEGAL OPINIONS AND CASE HISTORIES TO SUPPORT OUR CLAIM. (see Fire R3 at the website)

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SUPPLANTATION

sup-plant [suh-plant, -plahnt] verb (used with object)

1. to take the place of (another), as through force, scheming, strategy, or the like.

2. to replace (one thing) by something else.

*Dictionary.com

The below article, dealing with federal grants, explains how even where prohibited, governments “get around” restrictions. “Add to the top, take off the bottom”.

No Supplanting of Funds. The applicant must certify that: (1) the CFRC funds, if awarded, will not supplant expenditures from other Federal, State, or local sources or funds independently generated by the grantee; and (2) the CFRC funds, if awarded, will not supplant any leverage related to this grant, if any (that is, the grantee must have pursued and secured leverage to the fullest extent possible in order to ensure that expenditures from other Federal, State, or local sources or funds independently generated by the grantee are not supplanted).

Still, there are ways of getting around this proposal …. For example, one could announce that people already employed by the agency will spend 10 – 20% of their time managing the proposed program, so that money should come from the grant.

Although the rules usually forbid it, supplantation happens all the time anyway, mostly because money is fungible—meaning that many organizations just have a big money pot at the center of their financial systems, so money goes in one side and out the other, making it almost impossible to determine whose dollar was spent on what.*

SOURCE: Under the Fair Use Act, this information is used for informational non-profit use. Underscore added.

http://seliger.com/2010/06/27/supplementing-versus-supplanting-grant-funds-examples-from-the-rural-housing-and-economic-development-program-and-the-capital-fund-recovery-competition-grants/

FROM CALIFORNIA: The purpose of the policy is to assure compliance with Proposition 10, adopted by the voters in 1998. Health & Safety Code section 30131.4 provides, in part, that Prop. 10 funds shall be used only to supplement existing levels of service and not to fund existing levels of service. It further provides that no money in the Commission's trust fund shall be used to supplant state or local General Fund money for any purpose.

Is the Current Washoe County School Board Dysfunctional?

  • District Attorney Dick Gammick called Washoe County school Board dysfunctional
  • Reno Gazette Journal chastises board
  • School Board violates Open Meeting Law repeatedly- fined!
  • School Board members resign
  • School Board illegally fire respected Superintendent: Lawsuit settlement: “pay-out of a $770,000 settlement to former superintendent Pedro Martinez, who challenged his firing in 2014.”
  • School Board illegally fires School Police Chief: Settlement costs: $130,000!
  • School Board illegally gives milk contract to dairy vs $150,000 lower bid- violated law. Was someone paid off?
  • School Board member resigns over student relationship issue.
  • The list goes on and on…

Gammick: School Board is totally dysfunctional

www.rgj.com/.../25/gammick-school-board-totally-dysfunctional/16157823

Sep 24, 2014 · Congratulations to our Washoe County School Board for finally getting rid of an outstanding school superintendent who placed the education of our children as his No. 1 priority behind his family. And they were able to accomplish this amazing task while being totally dysfunctional. Even today, we have two members who vehemently claim that they have done nothing wrong while the attorney general of this state has said different, citing six violations of the Open Meeting Law; their outside attorney, Kent Robison, who I have a lot of respect for, told them they violated the law, and let's not forget, Pedro's contract; Chairwoman Barbara Clark ,who grudgingly admitted that they were legally wrong; and all the while Trustees Aiazzi and Rosenberg claiming no error, no foul. Also, look at the reasons that have been presented to justify their actions; talk about a bunch of non-issues. At this point I would like to point out that Trustee Estela Gutierrez was not present for the July 22 closed-door meeting and that she, along with Trustee Lisa Ruggerio, voted against buying out Martinez's contract. Pedro Martinez visited over 100 schools in this county last year alone. He also worked diligently with UNR President Mark Johnson and TMCC President Marie Sheehan to raise the bar for our children starting in grammar and high schools, then through junior college and the university. Martinez was involved with the local Rotary Clubs in their Career Coach project, taking middle school students to businesses, exposing them to possible future endeavors and mentoring them. Martinez was supportive and participated in the Role Model Summit, a program organized by a group of concerned citizens. One day each school year, this group sponsors professional athletes and other professionals who go to the schools and make presentations to the students about how to succeed in life, starting with graduating. Martinez improved on and continued the Door to Door Program which entails Martinez and community leaders going door to door of those students who are at risk of dropping out of school and convincing them and their parents why they should stay in school and graduate. The list goes on and on. What does the future hold? For Martinez, he does not know what he is going to do. For Washoe County, after this debacle are we going to be able to recruit anyone of any caliber and, more important, with such dedication to education? With the drone program and Tesla moving into the area, are we going to have the technical skills that are going to be required? This issue is critical to our future and that of our children. Complacency needs to be retired, and it is time for the voters and parents of this county to take a stand. Hasn't this school board proven that they are dysfunctional and need to be replaced? The decision is yours. Richard A. Gammick is Washoe County district attorney.

WCSD Says Trustee Nick Smith Resigns After Alleged Misconduct ~ The Washoe County School District has announced that Trustee Nick Smith has resigned after alleged misconduct with a high school …

RENO — Washoe County School Board member Dave Aiazzi said he … will resign from the board by the end of September.The former Reno city councilman’s announcement comes in the wake of the board’s ouster and subsequent reinstatement of Superintendent Pedro Martinez of his duties. A public uproar ensued and some called for Aiazzi and other trustees to resign.

District faces another alleged Open Meeting violation www.rgj.com/story/news/education/2015/09/08/district-faces-another... District faces another alleged Open Meeting violation. ... District faces another alleged Open Meeting violation. ... Washoe School Board violates Open Meeting Law.

FROM RGJ 2015: The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees must involve the public, be transparent and create the right search process in picking the district's next permanent superintendent. They initially failed on each point Tuesday night when in a surprise decision, they voted 6-1 to hire interim superintendent Traci Davis. Only Trustee Nick Smith dissented.

Just about two hours after the vote — and questioning from RGJ education reporter Trevon Milliard about whether they violated state Open Meeting Law — they rescinded their decision.

Their actions continue a troubling pattern of shutting out public participation and disregarding transparency that is disgraceful to our school district and community. The board should have learned the law better by now, and the first vote never should have happened. Not even a year ago, the previous board violated the state's Open Meeting Laws when it wrongfully terminated previous superintendent Pedro Martinez. Six of the board members were fined $1,500 each for six violations determined by the Nevada Attorney General's Office.

…The public, too, deserves better than a rushed decision to choose the county's top school district leader, who is responsible for the education of 63,000 students.

School District's embattled lead attorney being demoted ~ www.rgj.com/.../2015/05/07/school-districts-embattled-lead.../70980714 School District's embattled lead attorney being demoted. The head attorney for Washoe County School District is being demoted and taking a 40 percent pay cut following ...

Washoe County School Board Member Barbara McLaury Resigns ...www.ktvn.com/story/31085035/washoe-county-school-board-member...Washoe County School Board Member Barbara McLaury Resigns ... Washoe County School Board Member Barbara ... duties as a trustee. She served on the school …

Washoe school board recall may happen, developer says ~ www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/09/25/trustee-recall-possible-election... Perry Di Loreto, a local developer and outspoken critic of Washoe County School District Board of Trustees, said Wednesday he is in weekly meetings studying a ...

Schools milk contract violates federal law. Federal code says the Washoe County School District must award ... the district for its loyalty to these laws, ... Washoe’s milk contract violated ...*The Washoe County School Board approved Model Dairy’s contract in 2013 even though Anderson Dairy, based in Las Vegas, offered the same services at a lower price. Model Dairy's original bid was $1.34 million to supply five million cartons of 8-ounce milk, according to records obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal. Anderson Dairy's bid was $1.19 million. That's a difference of $152,640, or 13 percent more for Model Dairy…

SETTLEMENT FOR FIRED SCHOOL SUPER PEDRO MARTINEZ:…pay-out of a $770,000 settlement to former superintendent Pedro Martinez, who challenged his firing in 2014.”

RENO, NV – SETTLEMENT FOR FIRED SCHOOL POLICE CHIEF: At a special meeting of the Washoe County School Board Tuesday, December 30, 2014, the board reached an official settlement with former Police Chief Mike Mieras, who sued after being fired …. let Mieras go in August of 2014 …he will get $95,448 put into his retirement account, about a year and a half worth, and $34,250 thousand in legal fees paid. (that’s $130,000 of taxpayer money!)

IS THE WASHOECOUNTY SCHOOL BOARD DYSFUNCTIONAL? THIS ONE IS A NO BRAINER. WHAT’s NEXT? NOW THEY WANT BILLIONS, YES BILLION MORE IN TAXES FROM US. THEIR EXPERT STUDY WANTED $718 MILLION BUT THAT WASN’T ENOUGH, SPECIAL INTERESTS WANT BILLIONS ON THE NOVEMBER 2016 BALLOT MEASURE.

How Would Violations of the WC1 measure be enforced?

Not the District Attorney- Just the Opposite.

From Dania Reid, Deputy District Attorney for Washoe County: “The District Attorney does not represent individual citizens nor provide legal advice to them.”

If a taxpayer or group enforced such action, would they be reimbursed for attorney fees? NO

The Washoe County School District has a staff of lawyers paid by taxpayer funds to fight any objection.

Because the wording is so vague, it could be a losing battle anyway. The ballot does not prohibit “Supplantation” commonly called add to the top and take off the bottom.

So absent a good citizen a this/her expense there seems no mechanism, or oversight to legally challenge WCSD board decisions on spending WC1 funds.

School tax opinion

The skyrocketing enrollment lie!

WC1 taxpayer concerns

Damonte Ranch High School building costs