Polls favor bond #3

Theresa Wray/ Roundup

More than half of the 1,000 voters who responded to a recent telephone survey favored an additional $2.85-billion third bond proposed by the L.A. Community College District (LACCD), but the board of trustees have not yet decided when, or if, to put the measure on the ballot.

One thing appears almost certain: such a measure will not appear on the March 2007 ballot.

The proposed third bond measure, Proposition AAA, would add additional funds needed to complete 457 district-wide improvement projects under the previous $2.25- billion Proposition A/AA bonds. This includes 40 projects at Pierce College, one of the nine LACCD colleges.

“A lot has changed since the first bond was issued six years ago,” said Kristen Rockwell, account manager at MWW, a public relations firm hired by the LACCD.

“The cost of materials is escalating. Labor shortages are creating a lot of competition, which results in higher prices.”

The survey was conducted in June to determine whether voters would be willing to support a third bond. Voters previously approved Proposition A for $1.2-billion in 2001 and Proposition AA for $980-million in 2003.

Messages were left during the week of Sept. 25-29, requesting comments from the seven LACCD board members. None of them were available for comment. According to a district official, the board does not expect to vote on the measure for at least another year.

The total $2.25-billion from Proposition A/AA was allotted to 457 improvements projects throughout the nine LACCD schools. These projects included a new science center and renovation plans to the library, performing arts and other academic buildings at Pierce College. Unless the third bond is approved, 145 of the 457 district-wide projects will be cut, according to Larry Eisenberg, executive director of facilities planning and development for the LACCD.

In March, the board members voted 6-0 authorizing Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates to conduct a telephone survey to test voters’ support for a third

bond. With a budget of $42,750, members of the firm called 1,000 residents living within the LACCD boundaries.

In general, the voters’ response was, “Get whatever amount you need to do whatever you have to do,” said Eisenberg.

When voters were asked when they would like to see the measure on the ballot, 56 percent said they were in favor of March 2007. A total of 62 percent agreed to June 2008 and 65 percent supported a November 2008 ballot date.

According to Proposition 39, which was approved in 2000, school bonds require 55 percent approval from local voters. Prior to 2000, they needed a two-thirds vote to pass.

The response we got [56 percent approval] was too close,” said Eisenberg. “It is too risky to put it on the ballot in March considering the margin of error.”

In the meantime, the nine colleges within the LACCD are readjusting their original project estimates to meet the escalating cost of materials.

“Our original forecast [under Proposition A/AA] was based on the average material cost index, which at that time which was 0.9 percent,” said Tony Sanger, deputy program director for the LACCD bond program.

“Everyone was surprised in 2004 when the index rose to 33 percent.”

Ken Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors of America reported in April 2006 that the price of steel, pipes, wiring and concrete increased 15 percent in 2005 and continues to rise.

Another contributing factor to the rising costs is the current wave of retirement hitting the construction industry.

In addition, many younger construction workers in the Los Angeles area have been recruited to assist in areas around the Gulf in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“There is so much construction going on in Los Angeles and not enough skilled workers to meet the needs,” said Rockwell.

Pierce has completed 13 of the 40 projects planned under Proposition A/AA, including the solar photovoltaic farm, the new student bookstore, equestrian center, and renovations to the cinema screening room located in the business education building.

We attempt to precisely as conceivable figure every scene title from GOT Season 7 utilizing what little data we have there are currently 24 additional projects in the design phase and three under construction.

As the LACCD considers the proposed third bond, the nine colleges within the district, including Pierce, are struggling to meet their project goals amid the rising cost of materials and labor shortages.

“Nobody expected that materials would be four times the level we’ve seen in the past 20 years,” said Sanger. “Once prices rise, they never fall back down again. They fall to a new plateau.”