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The Salida Fire District Board of Directors has placed on the November ballot Measure U.

You are urged to vote Yes on Measure U.
Currently, the 5 members of the Salida Fire Protection District (SFPD) Board of Directors are appointed by the County Board of Supervisors to 3 year terms. Measure U asks you, the voter, to change the method of selecting board members.

If Measure U is passed, the members of the Board of Directors would be elected by the voters in the SFPD boundaries, to a term of 4 years. I believe that changing to an elected board would be beneficial to the voters of Salida by making the board responsible directly to the voters, and not the County Supervisors. In recent years, the County Board of Supervisors has made no secret of their intent to take more control over special districts (SFPD is a "special district"), and to consolidate districts.

Over the past few years, several fire districts have been consolidated -- the closest one to Salida being Riverbank. While there are no current plans that we know of to consolidate Salida in to another district, the very real possibility exists of that happening. With an appointed board, the Board of Supervisors need only appoint 3 members supporting consolidation and it would likely happen. However, with an elected board, it is you, the voter, that determines the makeup of the board.

I urge you to vote YES on Measure U.

Thomas Burns
Board of Directors,
Salida Fire Protection District

Open Letter to the People of Salida;

Perhaps the issue that tops the agenda of most Salida residents with school age children is the construction of a Salida High School. The Modesto City School District has placed on the November ballot a bond to raise $66 million to build 2 high schools -- one in Salida and one in Village I on Sylvan Rd. While high schools are sorely needed in this district, I urge you to consider carefully the options available to the School District in this bond measure.

The bond is meant to provide approximately half of the funding for 2 high schools - each is estimated to cost approximately $66 million to construct. The other half of the money is to come from the State of California. Unfortunately, the State does not presently have the funds to contribute the other $66 million needed to build these schools.

A bond measure would have to be authorized by the State, and then passed by at least 55% (or perhaps 2/3, depending on how the bond is written) of the voters in the State before funds would become available. At present, the State does not plan to put such a bond on the ballot until at least November 2002. If such a bond is passed, the money would then be allocated by the State according to some as of yet undefined formula that may include district size, economic need, ethnic makeup, and other factors. In other words, the State funds may never become available to Modesto City Schools.

The Modesto bond (Salida is in the Modesto high School District) allows the District to use the funds as it sees fit, and does not require that a school be built in Salida. The stated goal is to build 2 schools, however, if State funds are not available, all of the $66 million could be used to build just 1 school.The District already owns the site of the proposed Village 1 school, and is already planning that school. The Salida site is not yet selected, much less in the possession of the District. It seems logical, therefore, that if State funds do not become available, the only high school built will likely be in Village 1.

Our high schools are severely impacted -- 140% of capacity by some estimates -- and new schools are desperately needed. It is estimated that if both of these high schools are built, the schools will still be at 140% of capacity in 5 years; they will likely be at 180% of capacity without these schools. But passage of this bond is no guarantee that a high school will be built in Salida.

Each School District has limits on it's "bonding capacity" -- the amount of bond debt it can have outstanding at any given time. Passage of this bond, without a limitation that a school must be built in Salida, would impact that bonding capacity, and may make it more difficult to issue a bond for Salida in the future.

I urge you to carefully read the fine print in the bond measure before making up your mind on how to vote. A Yes vote will not guarantee a high school in Salida; you could end up paying for a school in Village I only. A No vote will guarantee that the Modesto City Schools will not build a high school in Salida.

Tom Burns
Salida MAC

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