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Officials react to Measure L loss

Funding plan necessary, trustee says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Supporters of the now-defunct Measure L are voicing their concerns after the ballot item failed to gather the two-thirds vote it needed. Measure L would have been an annual $59 tax for property owners to bring in $4 million for the Auburn Union School District over five years. The measure needed more than 66 percent of the vote to pass. According to the Placer County Office of Elections the final Election Night vote count was 6,006 votes for Measure L and 5,078 votes against the measure. This gave Measure L 54.19 percent of the vote. Rob Haswell, chairman of the Citizens for a Stronger Auburn Yes on L, said even with the loss, he felt the campaign was well managed. “First of all, I would say I’m proud of the campaign we ran,” Haswell said. “We put together a strong message and did our best to put together a case for the community. It was just a very tough climate. It’s unfortunate, but we worked hard and talked to thousands of voters, and it just wasn’t enough. Obviously two-thirds was always going to be a tough number.” Haswell said he thinks the loss of the measure will have a strong impact on Auburn. “I’m obviously extremely worried for the schools and community in the coming years,” he said. “The board and the staff have to look at their budget, and they have to get it to work. They have obviously got to make do without this as a possibility.” Trustee Daniel Berlant said the budget is in crisis and the district has cut everything it possibly can, including administration salaries. “Obviously, we are just one day after the election, and it’s very sad for us for it not to pass,” Berlant said. “We have to continue to look for other ways to fund the very basic education.” Berlant said the way things are going, by fiscal year 2013 the district will no longer be able to pay its basic bills and the state would have to take over. “That is not a viable answer for Auburn,” he said. “We are going to have to come together … and come up with a solution. We are down to the bare minimum of our expenses, so we have to do something to continue to fund Auburn Union. The state has made the decision to take the money that is made for our schools in Auburn and not give it to us.” Taxpayer Advocate Dan Sokol, who ran for Auburn City Council and opposed Measure L, said he doesn’t think the two-thirds vote required to pass the parcel tax was too high. “It should be something more than majority, and whether 66 (percent) … is too high a hurdle, I don’t know,” Sokol said. “I don’t think under any reasonable hurdle it would have passed.” Sokol said he is concerned about the financial state of the district, but feels that money could be better managed. “I agree they need more money, but I just don’t think a parcel tax was the way to get it,” Sokol said. “I think there has been enough waste in the district, (and without it) they wouldn’t be in as sad of shape. A lot of the hurting is spending for the wrong items and misspending.” Douglas Crancer, assistant superintendent of business and facilities at the district, said the spirit that went into the campaign was uplifting. “I’m really happy on how the campaign was put together,” Crancer said. “It just kind of brought out the good of the community. (The measure) got a majority of the voters. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the super-majority of the voters.” Several commenters on the Nov. 2 “Measure L voted down” article on AuburnJournal.com have mentioned they would be interested in donating money to the district. Crancer said the district would set up a restricted account for any funds donated, so the money would go toward what community members wanted it to. “We can always accept donations,” Crancer said. “In terms of levying … money, parcel taxes are the only way to go.” Crancer said fundraisers are also a possibility, but district staff and the board would have to decide on any specific plans. Haswell said past fundraisers haven’t brought in anywhere near the $4 million the tax would have. “They haven’t been able to fundraise on the level we are talking about here,” he said. “I worry about our future from an educational standpoint.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com