DATE: April 15, 2009
TIME: 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Room 2 (located just inside the entrance
of the Library in Phase III)
6162 Rotary Way, Joshua Tree, CA 92252
I. CALL TO ORDER: PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
II. ROLL CALL: Randy Councell, Phillip Curra, Robert Dunn, David Fick, Paul Hoffman,
Albert Marquez, Joe Olson, Sue Tsuda, Jim Ventura, & Barbara Weeda.
Special Guests: Dan Cain, Lynn Lee, & Julia Blackburn
Absent: Phil Curra
Member Announcement: Barbara Weeda’s term has ended.
III. CONFIRMATION OF AGENDA
Paul Hoffman moved approval; seconded by Randy Councell; motion carried.
IV. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Regular Citizens’ Oversight meeting – October 16, 2008 and
January 21, 2009. Paul Hoffman moved approval, Sue Tsuda seconded. Motion carried.
IV. PUBLIC COMMENTS:
Persons who wish to speak to the Citizen’s Oversight Committee (COC) may do so at this time
with a time limit of three (3) minutes.
1. Measure C project expense update.
Lynn Lee handed out a spread sheet showing expense updates for Measure C and she went
through by line item and explained where each project stood. David Fick stated he had heard
that the Trustees were told there was a certain amount of money to be put toward the solar field
and the District is not moving forward with it. Joe Olson shared David is correct, and explained
the solar project was approved five years ago and a contract was entered into with AP Architects;
however, the District informed AP it would be working with an energy management team for our
solar project. The District currently has paid out approximately $161,000 for past work, such as
design and planning. The District decided the solar field is not the way to go; the District is
looking at a solar covered parking lot which is less visually intrusive and would avoid any
additional mitigation for the tortoise translocation area. Joe Olson shared they will meet with
Chevron tomorrow and are hoping the package they present is an acceptable one.
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Lynn Lee continued to go over the spread sheet on the RFE project as Joe Olson shared the
District should be going to bid for the RFE and thinks the District should take advantage of low
construction prices. He continued to share the Chancellors office stated the District must go out
for the entire RFE project or it would be considered a change to the scoop of work and the
District would be responsible. However, the District can take the RFE to bid as a whole and
phase the projects. Sue Tsuda asked if the money came from State bond money. Joe Olson
responded yes. Sue Tsuda then asked why we can’t use the money. Joe Olson explained the
State froze all bond construction projects in December and said it would not reimburse any
districts for any construction. There was discussion by the Committee about matching funds and
the State budget. Joe Olson explained the RFE project has been on the books for a long time and
the state is concerned we are not moving forward quickly enough thus the project could exceed
the funds. Paul Hoffman clarified that the State is telling us we aren’t moving fast enough, but
now we’re stopped because it doesn’t have money, which now our cost will be 20% higher; it
doesn’t make sense. He continued his way of thinking is, if we have some money to do the RFE,
we should be given money from the state to do the most critical aspects and leave the rest for
chance. He also feels if we don’t begin some of the RFE the students will go somewhere else.
Joe Olson shared the focus is on the students and has been the Districts concern, and at this point
the science labs are the most critical. Joe Olson explained the vocational building is on hold due
to State and he does not see the current bond funding for it at this point. He continued the delays
in the projects and the increased costs will cause the value of bond capabilities to shrink. Jim
Ventura asked if the assessed value of properties go down will that lower the amount of money
coming in and could it cause the District to scale back on the projects. Lynn Lee stated we have
gotten all the money up front and she will bring a cash flow sheet for everyone; when we sold
the bonds we received the money. Randy Councell asked if we can move the vocational money
to the RFE. Joe Olson stated we can move the money wherever it is appropriate as long as the
Committee is in agreement. Dan Cain stated that the Chancellors office said if we can come up
with a conceptual design then it would move the vocational building into a Final Project
Proposal (FPP) stage. Sue Tsuda would they re-order our priorities. Dan Cain no, but it will
allow us to move forward with a design and put us in a different category where the State could
fund the project.
The Committee had discussions on assessed value. Al Marquez asked if we collect interest.
Lynn Lee said yes. The Committee continued to discuss taxes being collected. Lynn Lee stated
the questions being asked are behind the scenes at the County level. Jim Ventura asked who
oversees the collection and do we receive a report that shows what is collected versus what we
are paying. Randy Council stated we need to see percentages. Jim Ventura stated we need to get
a report from Dick Larson’s office. Sue Tsuda said this is a different bond then what you have
been dealing with. Paul Hoffman asked if this information in the financial report (page 11) put
out by auditors. Joe Olson stated he tried to contact Dick Larson’s office but was told it was not
part of what they do. Paul Hoffman was reviewing paperwork and stated it looked like we are
paying at the minimum principal and interest up to the year 2013 and after that we start to pay
even higher for the balance of the bond period of Bond A. He asked if it is a variable or fixed
rate, and what is the current assessed value of the District. He continued is there folks
monitoring our payments on an annual basis to make sure we are meeting our obligations. Paul
Hoffman stated with the situation we are in everything could stop and the students might go
somewhere else because we have no resources to make improvements and won’t be able to
afford it down the road. Al Marquez asked if the RFE is dependent on the energy audit from
Chevron. Joe Olson explained there are some things that will be included in the audit but it is
not dependent on it.
Sue Tsuda wants to understand, we are going out to bid for the total project with each component
phased over time. Joe Olson said that was correct.
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Al Marquez asked about the signal at Rotary Way. Joe Olson and Lynn Lee explained there is
money under infrastructure for the light; however, there has been discussions with the state,
county and local agencies to partner the cost. Joe Olson stated when the costs go up we dip into
the overall Measure C pool and this could double the cost and limit the ability to do other
important projects. Julia Blackburn asked do you have the ability to eliminate the line items and
apply it to another project. Joe Olson shared the District is required to do the traffic light. He
continued, maybe we can’t do the vocational building, but we still have money in the line item
that could be applied somewhere else. Randy Councell said you should bring a priority list so
the Committee can decide. Joe Olson stated we hope to do that at the next meeting. Al
Marquez asked about the conservation garden the college will have. Joe Olson shared we have a
grant from the water agency to do some desert landscaping. Dan Cain said he spoke with Joe
Guzzetta with Joshua Basin Water District and they are working on the design for it and will
send a site plan. He continued JBWD, the District and the Mojave Water agency needs to
maximize the funds we have to make this happen.
1. Election of Vice-Chair.
Sue Tsuda nominated Paul Hoffman; Al Marquez second; all were in favor.
2. Consideration of New Membership.
Julia Blackburn’s application was distributed for new membership (Section 5.1(e) member shall
be both a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the district and active in a parent-teacher
organization or school site council). Paul Hoffman moved to nominate, Randy Councell second;
all were in favor. Jim Ventura stated it will be presented to the Board.
3. Bond Refinance – Conference Call.
Joe Olson made a conference call to the attorneys. Joe Olson introduced the Committee
members and stated the committee had several questions regarding how bond repayment is
financed, current economy, dwindling tax base and how the District will make payments. Jim
Ventura asked for clarity regarding how the bond works with the current economy and property
assessments going down; is the District generating enough money to pay the bond payments.
Alex asked to back up and look at how the watch is made. When you sold the bonds your legal
obligation and ability to levy the tax is how you make your payments, since you have sold all
your bonds you are in a safe harbor; however, the citizens may complain if the levies go up. The
District is legally allowed to assess whatever it takes to make the payments and the County has
to levy; unfortunately, the world has changed from the time of the Bond. Jim Ventura stated
Bond C was not to exceed $25. Rob asked if Jim was referring to the tax rate statement to the
voters. Alex stated in order to answer your question we would have to look at all your Bond
documents. Jim Ventura doesn’t feel you can raise the price without going to a vote of the
people. Rob stated the tax rate statement is only an anticipated amount to be levied. Jim
Ventura stated he has never seen a report from the County that shows the monies collected. Rob
stated in their documents it shows a separate fund and the County withdraws money on a
periodic basis and then provides statements of the taxes levied to confirm the debit services was
made on a timely basis. Alex stated he would look at the documents and he asked when the
bonds were sold. Joe Olson shared the final bonds were sold in March or April of last year. Paul
Hoffman asked who has the legal documents and he wants to get clarification because we were
under the perception the assessed amount would be $25; although, all the bonds were sold does it
fluctuate on the future assessed value. Rob said the tax rate when you sell the bonds, usually is a
fixed rate, you lock in an amount and that amount does not vary. Paul Hoffman would like to
see the documents. Rob explained the process of the tax rate projection and future assessed
value. Jim Ventura had questions on refinance. Rob stated the rule of thumb is, if you can do a
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refinance and save yourself over 2 % on total debt service than it is worth considering;
otherwise, the cost is too great. However, with the current interest rates for bonds have not gone
in a favorable direction and are actually at a higher interest rate and doesn’t feel it is a good idea.
Rob gave an example of another client and how it really was not feasible.
VI. ITEMS FOR NEXT MEETING
Joe Olson stated we will email an updated roster and bring to meeting.
Jim Ventura shared the Committee needs to be aware if they can’t be here it is fine but if
you still want to be on the Committee we need to make sure so we have a quorum.
Jim Ventura stated we need an annual meeting and it will be the July meeting.
Jim Ventura stated the Committee needs to report to the Board and public at large and
wants to lock in by next meeting how to do that. Bob Dunn was the liaison.
VII. NEXT MEETING DATES*
The Committee discussed that Phil Curra can’t make the new meeting date and talked about
changing it back to Thursday’s.
Pau Hoffman motioned to adjourn; Al Marquez second.
The next scheduled Citizens’ Oversight Committee meeting is July 23, 2009, at 9 A.M.
To request accommodation or modification, please contact the Business Services Office at (760)
366-3791, extension 5310.
* Light refreshments will be provided.
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