Letters: Bond money will leave town even though it doesn't have to

November 14, 2008 11:00 pm

Well, we passed a $24 million bond for our schools to help improve facilities to educate our kids. We are either really nice, or are we stupid? Lets look at the facts. What is the School Board doing with it so far?

First they award two contracts to out-of-town architecture firms. The budget for architecture, engineering and inspections is over $5 million. Unbelievably, one of the most qualified commercial architects on the West Coast lives in Crescent City and was never contacted, nor was he aware of the scale of the projects in this bond.

Next a review of the budgets show large contracts with required performance bonds going to various schools for projects. After reviewing the expected bids I have concluded 95 percent of the jobs will go to outside contractors. Most of this will leave town but not because our local builders cannot do the work.

The reason for this conclusion is that most of the local contractors are too poor to qualify with a surety company to get a performance bond and thus be able to bid these jobs. The majority of the work will end up going to out-of-town contractors and the dollars will immediately leave Del Norte County.

If the School Board fails to break down the jobs and get competitive bids from as many local contractors as possible, we will pay more for less work and the builders and employees living in Del Norte will get nothing. If they get nothing then all the local businesses that depend on the local construction guys dropping off dollars at their businesses get nothing.

By the way these jobs pay prevailing wages set by the state. For example a carpenter gets almost $40 an hour instead of the current market rate of $15 for a journeyman. The multiplier effect on the $24 million is at least four times, or $96 million that would circulate through the local economy.

So the question is, are you going to allow these local families with kids to get fleeced by the same School Board we elect to represent us? Will you allow our property tax money to enrich people from Coos Bay and Los Angeles or should the money go to hard-working locals?

I suggest if you care that you call the School Board members, the school superintendent and then attend the next meeting and let the board know who they work for.

Ron Plechaty

Crescent City