Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fact checking Terri Bonoff

By Janet Schutz

Fact checking has been in the news quite a bit lately. I decided to do some of my own fact checking on the SD 44 Senate race. I served for two terms on the Wayzata School Board, so I do have a bit of an inside view to see through a big hole in one of Terri Bonoff’s claims.

DFL Senator Bonoff boasts that a bill she co-authored “allowed the Wayzata School District to expand without raising taxes.” That sounds really good. Too bad the statement doesn’t quite meet the fact-checking standard.

This bill provides early eligibility to the Wayzata School District for Alternative Facilities financing (Statute 123B.59). Wayzata can now issue debt for certain maintenance projects and charge the taxpayer for those debt payments without first getting taxpayer approval. With multiple buildings that need to be maintained, the bill is a good thing for the school district. Alt Facilities monies, however, cannot be used to expand.

Wayzata Schools is in fact expanding its elementary space. But they’re doing it via capital lease levy financing (Statute 126C.4), and would have done it regardless of the outcome of the law to which Terri refers. It’s also true that they are able to build without raising current levels of taxes. That’s because as old debt rolls off, they are replacing it with new capital levy obligations. It is a debt structure carefully designed to minimize taxpayer impact. This is due to years of prudent management on the part of Wayzata Schools’ administration and school boards.

I take pride in the history, success and AAA bond rating of the Wayzata School district. I am disappointed that Terri Bonoff has chosen to use the Wayzata School District’s accomplishments as a tool for her own political gain. I expect more from our elected officials.

This post originally ran on the Plymouth Patch as a letter to the editor on October 23, 2012.

No comments: