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Morning Report: Sweetwater's Other Financial Crisis

A Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Sweetwater Union High School District’s scramble to fix a midyear budget hole isn’t the only financial crisis it’s dealing with.

In a new revelation about the district’s money woes, VOSD’s Will Huntsberry explains how the district has been borrowing from Mello-Roos taxes generated by the newer developments in communities like Eastlake. The district has been using that money to try and pay down its debt, so it can keep borrowing money.

Districts are allowed to borrow money from Mello-Roos, with some conditions, including not borrowing more than 75 percent of the fund’s balance. But, Huntsberry writes, the district is on track to break that threshold this fiscal year.

Because the district will also be paying money back into the fund even as it borrows, the district predicts its final loan balance to be $68 million at the end of the year. That means it will add roughly $32 million in new debt to its loan sheet this year.

A new audit presented to school board members this week raised “substantial doubt” about the district’s ability to remain fiscally solvent moving forward.

Border Shutdowns Are a BFD

Disruptions at ports of entry along San Diego County have been becoming more frequent over the past couple of weeks. Since last Sunday’s five-hour closure of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, there have also been planned 10-minute closures at the Otay Mesa and Tecate Ports of Entry.

Complete closures of ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border have historically been extremely rare, writes VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan, but businesses are worried that given the current migrant situation in Tijuana, the federal government is ready to make them more common.

The executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection this week asking that closing the port of entry be considered a last resort, as it typically has.

  • San Ysidro residents, uncertainty about the border and increased law enforcement presence, is causing unease throughout the community. (Union-Tribune)
  • City Councilman David Alvarez tells KPBS in an exit interview that he’ll be turning his attention to border relations.
  • There have been several media reports about migrants in Tijuana trying to cross illegally after realizing requesting asylum at a port of entry could leave them stranded in Tijuana for months. The Union-Tribune lays out what will happen to the caravan members caught trying to cross illegally.

Krvaric Gonna Stick Around

The chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, Tony Krvaric, had announced several months ago he would be stepping down from the volunteer position next month.

In this weekend’s Politics Report, we reported for the first time that there seemed to be a push to convince him to stay on.

Sure enough, late Wednesday Krvaric tweeted that he was not going to quit after all. (This was after a tweet offering people a chance to get their own Trump branded microfiber cloth wipe.)

“After countless phone calls and meetings with committee members and stakeholders, I’ve decided to stand for re-election as Chairman,” he wrote. “San Diego Republicans will analyze and learn from 2018 to come back stronger in 2020. Freedom loving San Diego County taxpayers deserve no less.”

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s chief of staff, Evan McLaughlin, was quick with snark. “Tony, I’m really, really rooting for you, pal. What can I do to help?” he wrote.

The Other Side of Encinitas’ Housing Woes

Encinitas has the lowest percentage of multifamily housing units in San Diego County, and for years it’s been defying California law by failing to craft and send a legally acceptable housing plan to Sacramento.

The voices that often dominate stories about Encinitas’ struggle to accommodate new housing are those of wealthy residents who oppose building.

But for this week’s North County Report, Jesse Marx talked to several Encinitas residents who’ve felt caught between elected officials and critical homeowners as the debate over density and height limits continue.

One is 76-year-old Gita St. John. She thought her twilight years would bring a little peace of mind, but she’s on the verge of being priced out of a community she’s called home for nearly a quarter century.

A judge next week is likely to suspend an Encinitas law giving residents veto power over major land-use changes.

In Other News

  • The U-T reported on the outcome of the hotel workers union strike at the Westin Gaslamp, owned by Marriott. Workers ended up with significant raises. We had Brigette Browning, the president of Unite HERE Local 30, the union, on the podcast recently. She talked about how that came to be, how tense the work stoppage got and the unions work in the recent elections.
  • The San Diego Unified School District plans to pull from its new voter-approved bond to make an approximately $250 million investment in school security systems. That includes perimeter fencing to campuses, cameras and emergency communications. (10News)
  • Days before his critics assume power on the Fallbrook Union High School District Board of Trustees, the superintendent is leaving. He’ll collect a $242,000 severance out his way out.  (Union-Tribune)
  • Members of Catholic congregations who regularly hold services at North Chapel in Liberty Station worry that new owners will turn it from a place of worship into a commercial enterprise. (Times of San Diego)
  • The San Diego City Council divvied up $14.1 million worth of state emergency homeless aid money for housing services, rental assistance and more. (City News Service)

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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