Bond measure deadlines unchanged, says new guidance from secretary of state’s office
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
The Oregon secretary of state’s office sent an advisory Wednesday saying that school districts will have until Thursday, Sept. 7, to file paperwork for bond elections this November.
The office had earlier maintained that under a new law (Senate Bill 229) such paperwork was due at an earlier date.
SB 229 made technical changes to Oregon election laws, including making the process for bond referrals the same for school districts as it is for cities and counties. Cities and counties must file paperwork with the secretary of state’s office 80 days before an election to get a bond title. Once that title is approved, another form has to be submitted by 61 days before an election.
School districts only had to file 61 days before an election. That deadline is Sept. 7 this year.
Gov. Kate Brown signed SB 229 on Aug. 18, the same day as the 80-day deadline, and an emergency clause made it effective immediately. School districts did not receive forms or guidance to meet the new deadlines.
On Tuesday, the Coos Bay county clerk alerted school board secretary Peggy Ahlgrim that there was an issue with the district’s bond measure referral. The county clerk was relying on information from the secretary of state’s office.
Ahlgrim contacted school board members and the superintendent to figure out a response. Ahlgrim also contacted OSBA in case other districts would be affected.
“I really appreciated our county elections office because they gave us the heads up immediately, which gave us an opportunity to get the word out before it was too late,” Ahlgrim said.
Representatives from OSBA, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators and the Oregon Association of School Business Officials consulted with legislative leadership. The Office of the Oregon Legislative Counsel then said the new bond rules of SB 229 won’t go into effect until 2018.
The secretary of state’s office sent out new guidance Wednesday, saying the old rules should remain in place this year. It left the final decision on accepting paperwork up to county counsels, however.
“We don’t have the authority to tell them you must do it this way,” said Steve Elzinga, governmental and legal affairs director for the secretary of state’s office.
OSBA urges districts to file their paperwork by the Sept. 7 deadline and document their actions. Districts should contact OSBA Interim Director of Legislative Services Lori Sattenspiel (503-588-2800, lsattenspiel@OSBA.org) if they have any problems.