Will excess matching funds be returned?

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Will excess matching funds be returned?

U-B front-page news from Dec. 21: “The School Board voted today to use any excess funds from a Walla Walla High School Bond to pay down debt.”

As you can see the School Board promise is carefully worded so the promise only applies to the Bond excess. The $21.6 million state matching dollars isn’t necessarily included in this promise.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a refund. Have we received the promised police station refund yet?

Who is the School Board trying to fool? “Fool us once, shame on them; fool us twice shame on us.”

For some reason the School Board doesn’t think state matching dollars are meant for the schools they’re allocated for.

After the Edison wrongdoing was exposed, our former superintendent wrote a letter to the U-B in June 2008 with the following explanation about matching dollars.

He said: Taxpayers don’t understand state matching dollars. The state rewards communities with matching dollars for passing school bonds.

In other words, if we taxpayers tax ourselves for school bonds, the state will reward us with matching tax dollars they’ve already collected from us. We’re supposed to believe this nonsense?

Evidently one board member believes that nonsense. That board member said he voted for the Edison wrongdoing and would do it again. He also voted “no” on the bond refund. Is this the kind of board member who administers our annual $50 million school budgets?

This proposal sounds like the Edison School bond controversy. Many millions overpriced, with intent to spend state matching dollars elsewhere without voter approval (possibly Lincoln High).


The Wa-Hi bond is $48 million. The spending proposal, including state matching dollars of $21.6 million, is $69.6 million.

I suspect the Wa-Hi project is projected to cost about $45 million. We might have a small refund if we’re lucky. The remaining state matching dollars of $21.6 million could then be spent as the board desires. Edison history causes this conclusion.

A brief review of the Edison School bond controversy: The School Board seemed to purposely inflate the Edison bond by millions, including the state matching dollars. It used that excess money to build the bus depot without voter approval. The bus depot was denied earlier in a vote.

It looks like the School Board then sold the old bus depot in a private sale instead of a publicly advertised auction that’s required by law.

The School Board’s credibility has diminished somewhat.

Vern Filan

Walla Walla

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Comments

fatherof5 says...

First, the estimated cost for this project IS the $68 million. The district hired a reputable architectural firm to design this and lay out the numbers. The entire project is broken out piece by piece on the district's website for anyone to see. There isn't a secret $45 million plan.

Second, the tone of this letter implies the school board is something *other* than a group of five elected members of our community, who are volunteering their time and talents toward the benefit of children. These are good people giving back to their community. This is how small governance is supposed to work. You or I may disagree with some of them from time to time, but your letter has a conspiratorial tone to it. They aren't trying to "fool" anyone, and to suggest otherwise is disrespectful of their service.

Third, I have spoken with one of the board members specifically about the issue you raise in your letter. This member attends my church and has my utmost respect. This member confirms that (a) there are not any anticipated "extra" funds, and (b) if there is any extra money, *regardless of where it comes from*, it will be ALL returned to the taxpayers. Period. End of story.

This bond is too important to our kids to divert attention away from the main issues: What are the needs? Are they being addressed adequately by this bond? And, are we willing as a community to do what is necessary to support the education of our kids? Vern, you may vote "no." That's fine. I hope others will join me in voting "yes."

Posted 3 January 2013, 1:21 p.m. Suggest removal

namvet60 says...

Mr Filan you will have my NO vote!

Posted 4 January 2013, 6:18 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Manevet60... There is many no votes and counting,,,

Posted 8 January 2013, 5:35 p.m. Suggest removal

blue_streak says...

Mr. Filan,
I am curious on what basis you believe the actual cost of the Wa-Hi remodel will be $45 million? I have been told that the $68 million estimate has been examined and analyzed by reputable third-party engineers and architects.

Obviously construction estimates at this stage of a project are only estimates but a discrepancy of the magnitude you're suggesting would probably qualify as criminal fraud.

Do you have any evidence that the district is inflating the project costs in order to improperly qualify for state matching funds?

You're entitled to your opinion that the project costs too much, but I'd like hear more about why you think it's overpriced by more than $20 million.

Posted 8 January 2013, 5:40 p.m. Suggest removal

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