Time for $22.9 million vote
Funding assistance from the state of Kansas and a potential federal government grant could help lessen the burden of Baldwin School District taxpayers if Tuesday’s bond issue election passes.
If the $22.9 million bond issue is approved, the state government would contribute 27 percent of the funding. Plus the district might be receiving up to $2 million for a pair of safe rooms in the new facilities.
“I am anxious for Tuesday, but I am also hopeful,” said Alison Bauer, school board president. “I think this community has always valued education. I hope the voters come out and prove that to be true. I know the bond committee has done a wonderful job of getting the information out there to the public. As the school board president, I have to hope this passes.”
Supt. Paul Dorathy is also ready for Tuesday’s election.
“We’re all in anticipation to see what the voters feel needs to happen with this bond issue,” Dorathy said. “It’s gotten down to that last week finally and I think most people will be glad to have this election behind them after next week. We’re just in the mode of waiting to see what the results are going to be at this point.”
Some of the concern or opposition to the proposed $22.9 million bond is the cost and added taxes to the district’s patrons. Some of that worry might be lessened knowing the state government contributes 27 percent of the funding.
A tiny amount of that 27 percent would be taxes from the Baldwin district, but the rest would be from the other districts around the state. If the bond doesn’t pass, Baldwin will lose out on a portion of those taxes returning to the community; whereas, if it passes, the community will join others in receiving a share of that money.
“The taxpayers are paying about $16.7 million,” Dorathy said. “Of the $22.9 million, they are paying about $16.7 million of it.
“It would be some of the tax dollars being paid here,” he said. “That money is going to Topeka and creates a pool of money. That money is used to pay all of these bond issues across the whole state of Kansas. It would be a way to bring tax dollars back to Baldwin that are going out to other places to fund other bond issues.”
When the school board approved the bond issue plan in May, the district’s financial advisor, John McArthur, told the board and public about the increased taxes on district patrons. He said the monthly tax on a $200,000 home would be $20.30, which adds up to $243.57 for a year. For a $150,000 house, the monthly taxes for the bond would be $15.22.
“The state picks up 27 cents on the dollar or 27 percent of the cost it takes to do this,” Dorathy said. “In the projections that we figured for the cost of the taxpayers, that has been figured in there.”
Besides the 27 percent from the state, the district could also receive funding help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The safe room grant could be around $2 million. That was the figure tossed out at the Oct. 13 school board meeting.
The grant would be in conjunction with the Douglas County Emergency Management, but is part of the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The money would be used to construct safe rooms in the new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center and the new auditorium, which are the two biggest projects in the bond issue. The grant would pay for 75 percent of the cost of the safe room and the district would pick up the other 25 percent, which is already figured into the bond issue.
“There will be some more cost for building a safe room, but 75 percent of that cost is going to be paid for through these grants,” Dorathy said. “Our 25 percent will come from what we are already putting into the building. More than likely the grant, even though it would cost more to build it into a safe room, would probably benefit the taxpayers because it would probably reduce our cost some to build that room in the first place. We could maybe use some of that extra money for enhancements or it could go back to the taxpayers.”
One last financial benefit of an approved bond issue would be to the district itself. The district would receive additional funding during the next two years for students using the new facilities.
“We get 25 percent of the base state aid, which is about $4,400,” Dorathy said. “So we would get 25 percent of that added for every student that is in the new facility for two years.
“We would receive a couple hundred thousand dollars for two years time for both the primary center and the performing arts center,” he said. “That’s a good thing to kind of help with little costs that you don’t always plan for that pop up in the new facility.”
Tuesday’s election ballot will be filled with many items, most of which deal with state and federal government positions. The district bond issue will also be on there, so Dorathy wants to remind everybody to hit the polls.
“I just want to remind people to vote on Nov. 4,” Dorathy said. “Not only is our bond issue important to our local taxpayers and voters, but there are also decisions to be made about the state and country. This is one of the most critical elections that we’ve had in quite a while.”