Proposition A is a $246 million general obligation bond. The proceeds would be used to fund facility renovations, remodeling, and new construction under City College of San Francisco’s (CCSF’s) Master Plan. The estimated average increase in annual property taxes resulting from this bond would be about $10.71 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, or $42.84 per year for a home with an assessed value of $400,000.
This bond issue was placed on the ballot by a vote of the San Francisco Community College District Board of Trustees. General obligation bonds must be approved by a vote of the electorate under State law. Proposition A requires an affirmative vote of 55 percent of those voting to be enacted.
In 2001, San Francisco voters approved a $195 million bond issue towards CCSF’s long-term
needs of $750 million to $850 million to renovate and upgrade its facilities to meet the needs of an ever-expanding number of students requiring both degree and job training education. The 2001 bond was the first phase of a two-phase plan. The Phase I projects funded by the 2001 bond issue are now either completed or well underway. Prior to the 2001 bond, it had been 18 years since the last substantial upgrade of CCSF facilities. This year’s Proposition A would provide funds for Phase II of CCSF’s facilities improvement plan.
CCSF provides a broad range of educational services to an astounding 110,000 full- and part-time students (equivalent to 36,000 full-time students), of whom approximately 90 percent are San Francisco residents. These services are provided from nine campuses in the city. The 70 year-old institution offers degree and non-degree courses in a full spectrum of subjects. It provides continuing education courses, contract education to train and update the workforces of employers in the city, as well as online courses in a variety of subjects.
Enrollment at CCSF has grown to a higher level than its facilities can accommodate. The current proposed bond issue would be used to begin or complete six projects in Phase II of CCSF’s plan. The college has already augmented the existing bond funding with additional State funds of $140 million, and believes it can acquire an additional $75 million to $100 million of State funds over the next several years.
Even though bonds issued by the Community College District do not count against the City’s Charter-mandated limit of three percent of the assessed value of property in the City, there are “prudent” debt calculations used by bond rating agencies that include all debt supported by the City’s tax base. These proposed bonds will be part of that calculation. The rating agencies take that total debt as a percentage
of the total assessed value of all City property, and the result is called the overlapping debt ratio. Large cities in the United States had, as of November 2004, a median overlapping debt ratio of 3.9 percent. As of November 2004 the City’s overlapping debt ratio was 2.35 percent.
Those who support Proposition A state:
- CCSF’s 110,000 students make it one of the most important parts of San Francisco’s education system
- Because of the increasing competitiveness of admissions to the University of California and State College systems, and the constantly increasing demand for post-secondary education, there will be a growing need for the education services provided by CCSF
- The existing quality of many of CCSF’s buildings and facilities is extremely poor, and many have not been upgraded for decades
- There is adequate capacity within the City’s prudent debt limit to issue and carry these bonds
Those who oppose Proposition A state:
- This bond issue has been rushed to the ballot and would have benefited from a more deliberate process. CCSF officials planned to place the bond on the ballot in 2006, but placed it on the current ballot at the last minute for political reasons
- The City has not yet completed setting priorities for its future capital needs, which far exceed its debt capacity. This bond issue and others should await the completion of a full needs assessment and prioritization of the City’s capital projects
SPUR recommends a “Yes” vote on Proposition A. CCSF is a critical to meeting the educational needs of San Francisco residents. It provides an opportunity to obtain a high-quality, low-cost post-secondary education for thousands of San Franciscans. CCSF must have the capacity and facilities to keep pace with demand for its courses.