Ruiz, a Hollister representative on the board, expressed concern in June that San Benito County isn't getting its share of funding from the 8 million dollar bond meant to improve college facilities and secure land for satellite campuses in Coyote Valley and San Benito County.
The Hollister college site has been planned for Fairview Corners north of Highway 25 near the Ridgemark Golf and Country Club, land the college purchased with Measure E funds several years ago. The school also purchased a piece of property in Coyote Valley. Trustees approved the purchase of Coyote Valley property for ,124,060 – more than twice what had been allocated in the original master plan. In San Benito County, they spent ,838,755 – roughly .9 million less than was outlined in the same plan.
The seven residents supporting the letter sent this week to Gavilan College included Supervisors Margie Barrios, Anthony Botelho and Jerry Muenzer; along with residents Gordon Machado, Aurelio Zuniga, Julie Morris and Joseph Morris. They included recent columns in the Free Lance written by Marty Richman with the letter as an attachment.
Below is text of the letter:
Board of Trustees
Gavilan Joint Community College District
Dr. Steven Kinsella
5055 Santa Teresa Blvd.
Gilroy, CA 95020
Dear Trustees and Dr. Kinsella,
Concerned Taxpayers of San Benito County (CTSBC) request that you immediately cease and desist the approval and/or use of Measure E funds for any and all expenses related directly or indirectly to the construction, alteration or revision of facilities intended for the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium.
It has come to the attention of CTSBC that on June 10, 2014, the Board of Trustees approved the Five-year Master Plan which included an expenditure of million of Measure E funds to relocate the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium (SBRPSTC) to Coyote Valley, including .2 million allocated for 2014/15. Subsequently, the Board and its President submitted this plan to the Board of Governors of the Chancellor's Office. That plan listed the SBRPSTC second in priority, although there is no record of it ever having appeared on the Master Plan previously. In the meantime, the educational center planned for San Benito is seventh in priority, although this was an original objective of Measure E.
On July 8, 2014, Gavilan President, Steve Kinsella, and Vice President of Administrative Services, Frederick Harris, presented an Agenda item for the Trustees to approve service fees of up to 0,000 for an architectural services agreement with the firm BFGC for preliminary plans, working drawings, bidding, construction, and post construction services for the SBRPSTC campus in Coyote Valley. We assume the Trustees approved this expenditure. Notably, President Kinsella is Chairman of the Board of the SBRPSTC, a clear conflict of interest.
We are unable to identify any previous Facilities Master Plan submitted by Gavilan that references the proposed expenditure of million in bond funds on the SBRPSTC. This is most likely because
1. THIS PROJECT WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE BALLOT-SPECIFIC BOND MEASURE as required by Proposition 39, and the expenditure of Measure E funds for this purpose represents a violation of Proposition 39;
2. THIS PROJECT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN INCLUDED IN THE BALLOT SPECIFIC BOND MEASURE since it is not part of Gavilan, but rather a separate entity operated by a 10-college Joint Powers Authority, of which Gavilan is but one member.
In addition to being unlawful, this allocation will push the original million cost estimate for the Coyote Valley project to more than million. Measure E funds that could be used as matching funds for the promised educational center in San Benito County, a stated requirement of the Measure E bond ballot measure, are instead being illegally siphoned for the SBRPSTC.
CTSBC is investigating other aspects of potential fiscal irregularities by the Board and college president concerning the Measure E funds, including, but not limited to, lack of legally required oversight, hidden project planning, and possible intentional manipulation of the district's Five Year Capital Constructions Plans.
However, this proposed expenditure requires immediate attention, as it is in clear violation of Proposition 39, Education Code section 15284 and Code of Civil Procedure section 526a, and demonstrates an utter disregard for the taxpayers of San Benito County. The attached newspaper articles provide additional information about these issues.
The present issue requires your immediate attention and action to stop this unauthorized expenditure. Unless you do so, we will have no choice but to explore any and all remedies available to us.
Cc: Gavilan Oversight Committee
California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office
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