Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On November 2. 2021 there will be a Special Election for the Pendergast Elementary School District and the Tolleson Unified High School District if you live in West Glendale. I recently received the publicity pamphlet for the Pendergast Elementary School District. 99% of the recipients of the pamphlet will file it in the circular file.

You can’t vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ unless you know the facts of the voter request. So, here goes. First, I pulled out my state property tax bill and I will share it with you. The Limited Cash Value (LCV) of our home for tax year 2021 is $217,679. This number is important because that is the number used to determine how much property tax you pay each year.

Your tax bill tells you how much of the total amount paid (our total for the year is $3,142.94) goes to whom. Here is what our bill states:

Pendergast Elementary                     $439.27         +7.1%

Pendergast Elementary Bonds            $456.55         +4.9%

Pendergast Elementary Overrides       $369.54         -8.3%

We will pay Pendergast taxes of $1,265.36 for tax year 2021. That’s 40% of our entire tax bill with a +3.7% increase this year over last year. With our home whose limited cash value is $217,679 the additional tax is about $228.30 a year or about $19.09, nearly $20 a month.

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at the rest of the property tax bill. We are in the Tolleson Unified High School District so a portion of our property tax goes to them as well.

Tolleson High School                           $434.49         -.4%

Tolleson High School Bonds                 $308.30         +27.5%

Tolleson High School Overrides            $287.60          -3.5%

We will pay Tolleson Unified High School taxes of $1,030.39 for tax year 2021. That’s 33% of our entire tax bill with a +23.6% increase this year over last year. That means 73% or $2,295.75 of our entire annual property tax bill of $3,142.94 goes to 2 school districts.

The amount of our bill that goes to the City of Glendale is $375.65. That money is used for police, fire, parks, transportation, etc. Here’s a fact that many do not know. Your property tax does not cover the average expenditure by the city per home. The current estimate is that to provide city services the cost is about $900 per home. How does any city make up the difference? In its collection of other taxes such as sales tax. That is why economic development is a critical driver for every city.

What is Pendergast asking for? To issue bonds in the amount of $53.5 million. But that is not the real number. While they propose to borrow $53.5 million when debt is paid back there’s interest to be paid for the right to borrow money. From their publicity pamphlet, “The estimated total cost of the proposed bond authorization, including principal and interest, is $74,701,002.” Over 15 years the district will pay about $21 million in interest. I would love to know what the district’s credit rating is as they say the interest rate average is 5% but could be as high as 8%. I guess, for public purposes $53.5 million looks a lot better than                                                 $74.7 million.

What do they want to spend the money on? The proposed capital improvements listed on page 10 of the publicity pamphlet are what you should pay attention to. The descriptions on pages 3 and 4 of the pamphlet are a wish list of identified projects and a wish list that may or may not be actually funded. Page 10 proposes, “Renovations, improvement of existing and new school facilities, including furniture and equipment and District-wide technology” and the purchase of “pupil transportation vehicles” in the amount of $49.6 million and another $3.8 million for administrative purposes including, “renovation, improvement of existing and new school facilities, including furniture and equipment and District-wide technology.”

We know the district as of its July, 2020 District Submittal to the State of Arizona School Facilities Board (see page 8 of the publicity pamphlet) that the district is not planning to build more classrooms or schools. That leads to the question of why the wording for the funding request says, “of existing and new school facilities?” All of the proposed funding, less the $3.8 million for the district offices, will go toward the 12 existing schools in the district. On average, the expenditure will be about $4.1 million per school. Of course, the expenditures per school will not be equal as some schools are newer than others.

I have given you the information you need to decide how you will vote at the Special Election on November 2, 2020. Please do take the time to vote. The school districts do a good job of getting their “pro” voters to vote. The general voter population doesn’t pay much attention to school district bond elections and tends not to vote.

Local elections are the most important elections in which we should get information and make an informed vote. Local issues are closest to us and affect us more directly. For example, I will have to decide whether I want to pay another $20 a month to the Pendergast School District. That is what you have to figure out as well. Be informed and vote. It’s up to you.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       


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