|Measure G – by 69 votes
School bond measure passes easily with 63 percent of vote
Less than 70 votes…69 to be exact…pushed Measure G in Cotati across the finish line Tuesday night.
Sonoma County’s smallest city now has its highest tax rate, as voters approved a half-cent sales hike, raising the rate from 8.75 to 9.25. It was the second time in less than five years Cotati voters gave the OK for a sales tax increase.
With all precincts counted finally close to midnight, Measure G received 657 yes votes, while 588 (47.2 percent) opposed it.
Voters in Rohnert Park and Cotati also overwhelmingly approved Measure B, an $80 million bond measure earmarked to improving the infrastructure of Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District schools. It tallied 63 percent of the vote (55 percent was needed for passage). The vote count was 4,152 for Measure B and 2,434 against.
Cotati Mayor John Dell’Osso seemed more relieved than happy when told the measure passed.
“Is it a huge vote of confidence? No,” Dell’Osso said. “It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. Now I hope we can have an open and honest discussion of how funds will be used down the road. For the people who didn’t want to pay taxes, I hope that was the reason they voted against it, and that it wasn’t because they don’t want to believe what they’re hearing from City Hall.”
Measure G replaces Measure A, which was a half-cent sales tax increase approved by Cotati voters in 2010. Measure A was to expire in 2015. Measure G has a life span of nine years.
“I think the vote shows that a number of the people in Cotati at least got the message of how desperate and dire the financial need is, not right now, but when looking down the road a couple of years. I think with the presentations we made and the literature sent out, at least the people got a good understanding of how money could be used. It makes statement people really do want to keep Cotati independent.”
Leading up to Tuesday’s vote, Cotati’s elected officials and city staff consistently painted a bleak picture of the city’s future should the measure not pass. Some of the consequences of Measure G’s failure, supporters said, would be the possible dissolving of the police department, drastic cuts in services provided by the city, selling off city property and even the possibility of disincorporation.
“As the mayor or a council member, no one was interested in going down the path where we’d dissolve police and rest of city hall…it just didn’t make any sense to go in that direction, or everything pointing that way should it not pass. Like I said, it’s a huge relief…now we can take a deep breath, take a look at the future and know there will be one for Cotati.”
The CRPUSD says Measure B will cost each homeowner no more than $49 per $100,000 in assessed (not market) value. It marked the second time in two years voters in the district voted for giving the school district additional funds.
Superintendent Robert Haley said it’s a simple case of voters in the district being willing to pay for a better educational environment.
“I think it shows the communities of Rohnert Park and Cotati believe in the direction the school district is going, they care about kids, they want our facilities to reflect the exciting teaching and learning that’s going on inside the classrooms,” Haley said. “I think it shows the people support the schools and it’s great to know.”
He laid out some immediate plans for the district. Haley said plans already are under way to work on upgrading the district’s tech access at every school. The CRPUSD’s goal is to have the electrical capacity, the band width capacity and WiFi capacity in place in all district schools when the school year starts. He also said getting started on the first phase of rebuilding Rancho Cotate High and a new classroom building at Thomas Page Academy in Cotati are top priorities.
Haley also made a point to single out Susan Adams, who was the chairman of the Yes on B committee.
“We did everything by the book, we sent out flyers and made phone calls for three months to identify our yes voters, and they came out big-time for us today,” Adams said. “I think this vote means the people of Rohnert Park and Cotati think education is important for their kids. It’s going to be fantastic.”
Heading into election day, Haley said he harbored a feeling of cautious confidence. He compared his side’s preparation to that of preparing for a sporting competition.
“Being a sports person, you need a healthy amount of nervousness going into a game, not too much, but a healthy amount so you don’t want to take anything for granted…and that’s why we worked so hard all the way up until today,” Haley said.