Artist rendition of the proposed fine arts building, courtesy of Citrus College. The fine arts building is nearing an August 7 deadline with the Division of State Architect.
The proposed Fine Arts Building overcame yet another hurdle after a well known open government advocate questioned the Citrus Community College Board of Trustees’ compliance with the Ralph M. Brown Act.
Action item I.4, which would have authorized the issuance and sale of general obligation bonds to fund the proposed Fine Arts Building and other capital projects, was pulled from the March 18 meeting of the BOT after San Dimas resident Gil Aguirre cited flaws in the posting of the agenda prior to the meeting.
“Unfortunately, both agenda items fail to alert the public to the fact that the Board is considering the issuance of bonds that allow for the compounding of interest,” Aguirre said in a notice addressed to the BOT. “Therefore, the agenda description is inadequate … and serves to misinform the public about the true nature of the agenda item, in violation of the requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act.”
The Fine Arts Building is nearing an August 7 deadline with the Division of State Architect, creating a sense of urgency for those involved with the project
“If we don’t award the contract by August to the construction company, then we have to go back through the Division of State Architect, and that increases costs, that delays the project,” said Claudette Dain, Citrus College vice president of finance and administrative services.
Despite the recent setbacks, Dain noted that the modified timetable for BOT approval of the bonds to fund the project would not prevent Citrus from meeting its August deadline.
“As the Fine Arts Building is not calendared yet for construction, there is no delay on the project,” said Fred Diamond, Citrus College director of facilities and construction. “The Fine Arts Building would not have undergone construction until substantial completion of the Administration (Building) project anyway.”
Dain said that Citrus College wants to be “extra prudent” when it comes to transparency and complying with both the Brown Act, which guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies, and California Assembly Bill 182, which sets forth rules for the issuance of capital appreciation bonds.
The Brown Act states that public meeting agendas containing brief general descriptions of each matter to be considered or discussed must be posted at least 72 hours prior to meeting, according to ca.gov.
While the BOT agenda was posted online and in the doors of the Center for Innovation Community Room 159, 72 hours prior to their Feb. 4 meeting, the issuance of controversial capital appreciation bonds garnered the attention of Aguirre.
“It’s just a very costly, very risky proposal,” Aguirre said. “Instead of being good stewards of tax payer money, the Board, they’re more interested in promoting this building agenda.”
Aguirre is no stranger to Citrus College. In October 2012 Aguirre filed litigation against the district for its handling of a board-approved raise for Geraldine M. Perri, Ph.D., superintendent/president of Citrus College.
The lawsuit was eventually settled in March of 2013 after Citrus College agreed to pay Aguirre’s legal fees and acknowledge wrongdoing.
According to the settlement, the board acknowledged that it had committed an unintentional Brown Act violation when it did not agendize the item properly.
The process to authorize the issuance and sale of general obligation bonds under Measure G got back on track during the April 8 BOT meeting with Dain providing information on the agenda item.
The action item will call for the issuance of capital appreciation bonds to raise approximately $29 million for capital construction.
The April 8 meeting served as the first of two consecutive public meetings required by California State Assembly Bill 182 to vet the issuance of capital appreciation bonds.
The Board of Trustees is expected to take action on this item during its May 6 meeting scheduled for 4:15 p.m. in CI 159. The meeting is open to the public.