PUSD hopes to capitalize off the city’s November sales tax initiative
By Gus Herrera
In their final regular meeting before students return to class, the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution that will authorize the potential exchange of the district’s headquarters at 351 S. Hudson Ave.
The move is the latest in the district’s efforts to chip away at their financial challenges, which have been well-documented over the past year and required millions of dollars in reductions through a fiscal stabilization plan.
But, with a balanced budget for 2018-19, board members would like to kick off the new school year on a positive note and they’re hoping to create a new revenue source by swapping out their 4.5-acre district offices.
Eva Lueck, interim chief business officer, who presented the resolution to the board, was happy to finally be discussing what could be a very positive item for the PUSD, “I am very pleased tonight … [to be] talking about another revenue source … rather than my budget cuts that I normally talk about.”
With the board’s approval, the district will now issue a request for proposals (RFP) through their realtor Sam Manoukian from RE/MAX Optima.
According to staff’s report, the district property (which will be offered “as-is”) may be exchanged for another property of similar value or a combination of multiple properties, all of which must be within a 25-mile radius of 351 S. Hudson Ave. The PUSD will only be allowed to trade with private persons or private business firms, no other public agencies.
Respondents to the RFP must also demonstrate that their properties have a revenue-generating capacity and are prohibited from offering any buildings which have been operated by the cannabis industry, adult entertainment industry, or as a bar.
In order to ensure a transparent and fair process, all potential respondents are banned from speaking to any board members or PUSD staff and all information will be provided through the website PUSDRFP.com, which is expected to go live in the near future.
“The way we’re doing this is as open as possible,” said Manoukian, “everybody gets the same exact information as everybody else … the last thing we’d want to do is give anyone the perception that someone had more information than someone else.”
That said, one aspect of the process will be kept under wraps for now: 351 S. Hudson’s price tag. Although Lueck revealed that the district’s law firm is currently appraising the headquarters’ value, Manoukian told the board that the price will not be disclosed to the respondents, as it is their responsibility to conduct their own appraisal.
As far as the next steps go, Manoukian said, once open, the RFP will be subject to bidding for 30 days, after which he will report back with his recommendations.
“We anticipate multiple bids,” he concluded.
The resolution was approved 5-0 (Board Members Roy Boulghourjian and Patrick Cahalan absent at time of vote).
In other PUSD news, the board is excited by the opportunity presented by the City of Pasadena’s sales tax initiative on the November ballot, particularly the advisory measure that asks citizens whether they would support directing one-third of the proposed revenue towards the school district.
Lueck revealed that, if successful, the district would stand to gain approximately $7 million a year, “it’s very exciting news as we move forward,” she said.
Board Members Elizabeth Pomeroy and Kim Kenne echoed the interim chief business officer’s excitement and were similarly pleased to finally be discussing potential revenue – a refreshing change from last year’s relentless cuts.
“This is such a good opportunity and I think if we, as board members and members of the PUSD community, work hard for this, we’re showing that we really want to prevent future losses and future cuts,” said Pomeroy.
“This is a very … important source of income for the district,” said Kenne, “because it’s the nearest and perhaps most likely … I just don’t know that the state is going to have other money.”
“When people come and shop and use the resources of Pasadena, funds will stay in Pasadena,” said Lueck, “where our parcel tax is solely on our residents … the sales tax really takes into account those that are using our facilities … and are enjoying what we have to offer … I think it’s important that we should raise the dollars in Pasadena to stay in Pasadena.”