Kern County diverts 20% of all county property taxes to satisfy the state’s obligations – comprising a third of the property taxes allocated to education. $166 million was taken in the 2011-12 school year, emptying the county’s Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund, then removing $37 million directly from K-12 districts and $6 million from community college districts.
In 2011-12, the diversion was not promptly repaid. Kern County K-12 Schools suffered over $236 million of deferrals. Bakersfield City had to wait for over $40 million, Panama Buena Vista Union Elementary was still owed $25 million, and Kern Union High a staggering $52 million when the school year ended. This represented 17%, 21% and 16% of their total annual spending, respectively. (Greenfield Union, Rosedale, and Norris Elementary also saw about a fifth of their total spending deferred until after the end of the year.)
Since another $90 million of typically delayed expenditures also did not arrive until after the end of the year, many Kern County school districts struggled with borrowing and/or cuts to staff, instructional days, and services.
And what's on the books for this year? Kern County school districts have already been notified that $98,090,833 will not be paid until after the end of June 2014 -- with 50% more in the statute books, but not specifically allocated yet. The community colleges are looking at deferrals of $10 million or more.
The prior year, a total of $146,141,072 was taken out of school-allocated property taxes to pay State obligations. $125,954,073 was redirected to satisfy the State's VLF backfill obligation. $20,186,999 was redirected to pay for the State's 2004 Economic Recovery Bonds.
Sources: State Controller's Office, Local Government Reporting Section. (City and county detail shown in the reports, totals upon request from the SCO.) California Department of Education - First and Second Principal Apportionments.