SAB wrap up: OPSC gives bonding update, developer fees stay flat

State officials announced late last week the release of $100 million for school construction projects that were given the green light in 2009.Until now, all construction projects that were approved last year have sat on the states unfunded approval list, which was created in December 2008 when the economic downturn caused a freeze on all state loans.  That unfunded approval list has grown to 400 projects worth roughly $2 billion, according to the Office of Public School Construction. Although 2009 was a rough year for state bond transactions, the state treasurer was able to bring a modest number of bonds to market and school facility funding has slowly moved forward.  Rob Cook, director of the OPSC, reported that $1.83 billion worth of bonds were sold in 2009 in support of school construction projects.OPSC also received 1,400 project applications in 2009.In a status of funds update, Cook reported that approximately $548 million of Proposition 1D bonds were sold out of the March 2009 bond sale. In April, $437 million were sold out of Proposition 1D, $395 million from Proposition 55, and $413 million from  Proposition 47.  Finally, in sales that took place in October and November, $57 million came from Proposition 1D and $9.5 million for Proposition 55. In other action, the board voted to maintain developer fees at the 2008 level of $2.97 per square foot for residential development and 47 cents per square foot for commercial and industry development. Every two years, the board reevaluates state developer fees using an index from Marshall and Swift, a construction cost valuation company. SAB staff had recommended the board use the new 2010 index that took data from eight California cities and would have raised the development fees one penny per square foot for residential rates. The board declined on that recommendation and maintained the previous rates. The SAB did not adjust the new construction per-pupil grant amount. But the board entertained a lengthy discussion over the OPSCs grant adequacy report. That report, published last November, is a data-driven analysis of the new construction per-pupil grant that set out to collect construction data across the state with the ambitious goal of ending the one-size-fits-all funding formula for pupil grants. The board did not move on an item related to the frequency of allocation board meetings. However, Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, suggested that the board vote on a meeting schedule at the upcoming February hearing. Last November, Rob Cook explained to the board that three mandated state furlough days each month have placed great pressure on his department and made it increasingly difficult to appropriately prepare for the monthly meeting. Since then, the SAB has operated without a regular schedule. The next board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 24.
 

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