Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Voters to decide school bond issue

October 31, 2001

There will only be one question on Tuesday's ballot.

There will only be one oval to darken.

It's just yes or no.

Tuesday marks the day voters will decide whether to approve the $7.9 million general obligation bond to construct an elementary building for grades three through five and renovate and add to Baldwin Junior High, Vinland Elementary and Marion Springs Elementary.

The school district's financial advisor John McArthur, senior vice president for Fahnestock, said this is the best time financially for the district to pass a bond issue.

"It's worked into a great scenario," McArthur said.

The mill levy, which is currently at 13.4, will not increase with the passing of the bond issue, he said.

"The debt service for the '92 and '93 bond issues will be coming off the tax roles as this one would be going on," he said. "There could even be as much a one-mill decrease with this bond issue."

McArthur, who helped the district with its 1993 bond issue, said he is conservative when it comes to figuring the mill levy.

"In '93, I said the mill levy would be 19.6. It never reached that. In fact, that 19.6 turned into 13.4," he said. "Again, I am staying conservative. People ought to trust me. I didn't lie to them in '93."

If passed, the state of Kansas will also contributing 32 percent, or $2.6 million, of the principal and interest payments on the bond issue, which wouldn't be guaranteed at a later date, he said.

"Another factor people need to realize," McArthur said, "is this is the lowest tax exempt interests we've had since I've been in business. That interest rate is important on a bond issue."

He said those three factors are important reasons the bond issue should be passed.

"This is a window of opportunity," he said. "If we don't vote it in, we could lose out of the state assistance and the historically low interests,"

Blaine Cone, bond campaign committee co-chair, said she figures most people have already made up their minds how they will vote. But she said those who haven't decided need to keep the students in mind.

"They need to be thinking about the kids getting the best education they can," Cone said, "and providing them with a community atmosphere so they are not lost in large schools."

She said the passing of the bond issue will make the schools smaller.

"There are too many students in the elementary," she said. "There are just way too many students in one building."

The students will be the ones to lose out if the bond issue is not passed, McArthur said.

"The longer we wait, a fewer amount of young people will be able to take advantage of these new facilities," he said.

Supt. James White said he is optimistic about Tuesday's bond issue.

"I'm very hopeful," White said. "I'm hopeful that we got enough information to the voters so they can make an informed decision."

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