Props 12, 14 affect city

Props 12, 14 affect city, Prop 26 in doubt

by John Tawa

Manhattan Beach officials celebrated the outcome of two statewide bond measures on Tuesday's ballot dealing with parks and libraries, while awaiting the final tally on a third, more controversial proposition that could make passage of school bonds easier.

With 63 percent of precincts reporting, Proposition 12, the $2.1 billion park bond measure, was passing 65 percent to 35 percent. The measure would earmark $762 million for construction of neighborhood parks and ball fields. The proposition does not raise taxes directly or immediately. It appropriates money from the General Fund to pay off the bonds.

City Manager Geoff Dolan said that passage of Prop 12 would benefit the city.

"We don't know exactly how yet; my understanding is there would be some per capita money we'd be entitled to," he explained, saying it might approach $400,000. "Tentatively, our thought is that would be money to put toward the Polliwog Park project."

Beyond the per capita money, Dolan understood that a competitive grant process might also allow the city to access other proceeds of the bond fund. He mentioned Polliwog, the TRW Park and The Strand as projects that could be considered for funding.

Proposition 14, the library bond act, also appeared to pass easily. The measure would allow for $350 million in bonds to construct and renovate public library facilities, while at the same time requiring local governments to pay 35 percent of project costs. A competitive grant process would determine how the money was distributed. Factors considered will include need, existing services available and financial ability of local agencies to operate the facilities. Priority would be given to those projects that provided a joint benefit to the community and school district.

In Nov. 1998, the Manhattan Beach Library Commission issued a recommendation that the city opt out of the county library system and establish an independent, city-operated library. Prop 14 may help that vision become reality.

"We will have to work fairly quickly to make some decisions on how to submit a grant," Dolan said. "This council has not made a decision whether we're going to get into the library business or not. But I believe the council wants to apply for a grant for an expanded library whether we operate it or the county does. So it could get rather complex in working with the county in determining how to submit the grant."

As of Wednesday morning, Proposition 26, which would lower the threshold for passage of school bonds to a simple majority rather than two-thirds vote, was too close to call. The outcome of Prop 26 could affect the timing of the school district's planned bond measure to renovate and modernize Mira Costa High School as well as the success of the bond campaign. ER