CONCORD -- No Mt. Diablo district Measure C bond funds have been misspent, according to a Tuesday presentation to the 2010 bond oversight committee.

"The idea here is transparency," bond counsel Meredith Johnson said. "There's nothing to hide. There are no balls up in the air that we aren't letting you see."

The special meeting was called in response to several questions raised by committee member Alicia Minyen, who argued that the district may have used proceeds from its $348 million voter-approved ballot measure in ways not allowed under state law. She also pointed out that the district's audits of its 2002 bond, also called Measure C, were improper.

Although Johnson did not address the audits, the district belatedly plans to do a legally required audit of the remaining 2002 funds for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

Several community members said the district needs to rebuild trust after a misleading 2010 bond measure campaign that stressed repairs of leaky roofs and windows, without mentioning $88 million worth of solar projects, which were the board's top priority for funding after the measure passed. District officials also promised during the campaign that they wouldn't increase the tax rate above what property owners were already paying on the 2002 bond -- $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

When Minyen asked whether the district could keep this promise, Johnson said the district is not legally obligated to do so.

"It's a political promise," Johnson said. "It doesn't matter if it's disclosed to the voters."

Johnson also said the district is not obliged to build all the projects it listed in voter and campaign materials, since its priorities can change and it may run out of money. Although voters were told campuses needed urgent repairs on deteriorating facilities, two high schools that were recently given $1.5 million each to spend have decided to put up football field lights and bleachers.

Minyen also questioned the district's plan to divert solar rebates into the general fund, saying that money should instead offset the cost of the projects to taxpayers, according to generally accepted accounting standards. Johnson couldn't point to any legal opinion that grants districts the right to use the solar credits for general operating costs, but she said no law prohibits it.

Johnson also said the district is allowed to spend money on long-term debt for property lease agreements, even though they were previously paid from the general fund, because they are capital expenses, not operating expenses.

The 2010 Measure C committee plans to present its annual report to the board in September. The 2002 committee has not met since September 2009. It may need to be reformed, since most members termed out, said John Ferrante, the committee's chairman.

ONLINE
  • Information about the 2010 Measure C Bond Oversight Committee is available by calling 925-682-8000, ext. 3801 or by going to http://mdusdmeasurec.org and clicking "Oversight Committee."
  • Additional information is in the On Assignment blog at IBAbuzz.com/onassignment.