If you're thinking about this week's local elections, think school bonds and tax issues.
For the last few years, governments and agencies have struggled with tight budgets, and in the election Tuesday they hope beleaguered taxpayers will chip in to help from a countywide library tax measure in El Dorado County to a utility tax increase in Citrus Heights and a card room tax in Rancho Cordova. There's a school parcel tax extension in Davis on the ballot, and school bond measures in the San Juan Unified, Folsom Cordova Unified and Sacramento City Unified school districts.
One revenue measure with the highest stakes is Sacramento's Measure U, which would increase city sales taxes from 7.75 percent to 8.25 percent. Supporters say it is necessary to help keep adequate police and fire service.
If the measure wins approval, the tax would take effect April 1 and expire six years later.
Residents in the city of Sacramento have two policy proposals to decide: Measure T whether 'tis better to collect yard and garden clippings with "the Claw" or with yard-waste containers in all but leaf-fall months; and Measure M whether to form a 15-member commission to study city government for two years and make recommendations for amending the city charter or replacing it outright with a new document.
Fifty-four people are vying for seats on the charter panel, and if Measure M is approved, any changes proposed for the city charter would be put to a vote of the people in 2014.
But big bucks really come into play, of course, in school districts with bond measures on their ballots. The three area school districts are asking voters to approve a combined $832 million in bonding authority for schools to be repaired or replaced. The funds can't be used for programs, teachers and administrators.
Measure Q in the Sacramento City Unified School District would authorize the school district to issue $346 million in bonds for school facilities and related costs if 55 percent of the voters in that district give a thumbs-up Tuesday.
The same school district also is asking voters to authorize another $68 million in bonds to replace outdoor school facilities. That's Measure R.
In the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, Measure P, if approved, would clear the way for $68 million in bonds to improve schools in Rancho Cordova allowing the district to pick up where a 2006 bonding measure fell short as a result of falling property values.
In the San Juan Unified School District, Measure N would authorize $350 million in bonds for repairs of aging structures.
Besides ballot measures, voters will choose who will lead them for the next four years. More than two dozen council seats including those on municipalities in Placer County and more than a dozen school board seats are in play, and El Dorado County voters in supervisorial District 3 will choose the winner in a runoff between Brian Keith Veerkamp and Richard Barb.
In the city of Sacramento, the dollars have been flowing in support of the runoff candidates for two City Council seats. In the campaign stretch, from last year through Oct. 20, the four candidates Allen Warren and Rob Kerth in District 2, and Joe Yee and Steve Hansen in District 4 raised just under $1 million total.
There are races for seats on utility boards, too. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has one seat with three candidates. And the troubled Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District board has four of five seats going before voters. The outcome will be closely watched, since the Sacramento County Local Agency Formation Commission and the Sacramento County grand jury have questioned the district's ability to govern itself.
One of the hottest races is an unlikely contested judgeship in El Dorado County between Judge Warren Stracener and attorney Joseph Hoffman. It's a fierce battle, with charges and counter-charges.
And it has split alliances within the legal community and within the robed establishment of the El Dorado County courthouse.
Editor's note: This story was changed Nov. 5 to correct the spelling of Steve Hansen's name.