Schools to seek lower bond rate
Voters will be asked to approve a 10-year rollover bond in this year’s election that would improve nearly all school sites, pay for a variety of programs and increase technology.
School board trustees voted Tuesday to pursue a bond issue at 43 cents per $100 of a home’s assessed value. It would fund about $45 million worth of projects during the next 10 years.
The current rate is 47 cents. However, the 4-cent difference would be absorbed by city taxing entities, likely the city itself, which could add about $600,000 a year to the city’s budget.
“The fact is, the taxpayer’s bill will not go down,” said Mike Mitchell, who directed the master plan process. “It’s just that the revenue will go somewhere else. Even if the bond is defeated in November, (the taxpayer) will still pay the same.”
Mitchell, former operations director for the school district, presented the recommendations from the master plan committee to board members during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Frankly, I think it’s being responsible not only to us but to the taxpayer as well,” said board president Norm Scoggin. “It would be nice to have that 4 cents, but if we can get by without it, maybe somebody else can and may use it.”
City Manager Larry Werner said the city did not count on the possibility of the additional funds when determining its budget.
“We made a conscious decision quite a while ago that the school district needs to have the ability to make those decisions without any issues from the city,” he said. “I still believe in that.”
He said once “the dust has settled,” the city will then make a decision as to how to use the possible $6 million over 10 years.
“We’re just kind of in a holding pattern for now,” he said.
Although the possibility of helping out the city is a benefit, Mitchell said, it was not the driving force behind reducing the rate.
“It’s the taxpayer’s money,” he said. “We think we should only ask the taxpayer for the amount of money the school district actually needs. We only want to bond for the amount of money we think we need to support education for the next 10 years.
“We think we can get by on 43 cents.”
However, if the bond doesn’t pass this year, Mitchell said, the rate would drop significantly and could leave the district in dire circumstances.
“We won’t be able to ask for enough money to cover our needs by then,” he said. “We can’t ask for more because that will require raising taxes and that will never happen.”
The proposed bond would be divided into three phases.
The first will be $25 million for projects deemed “high priority” and will begin next year.
It includes a list of maintenance projects, site upgrades and improved efficiencies at almost all schools ranging from roof repairs to replacing portable classrooms and modernizing heating and air-conditioning systems.
The second phase is slated for $10 million to be completed in 2013-2014. The focus of this phase will be on educational programs.
“We think we know what the needs are, but we want to be sure,” Mitchell said.
An outside agency will conduct a study to determine how to best improve career and technical education as well as performing arts.
It will also look into the needs of Pioneer High School and the best way to help the alternative school expand and serve its population.
Mitchell said that could result in improvements to the site or finding a new location better suited to the school.
The second phase will also improve the infrastructure at Eagle Valley Middle School.
“We’ve put a lot of work into Carson Middle School,” Mitchell said. “Now it’s Eagle Valley’s turn.”
The third phase will run the remaining six years of the 10-year cycle, funneling about $500,000 per year into technology upgrades.
“Over the years, we’ve done a lot with technology,” Mitchell said. “But it changes so quickly. You need to continually put money into it to keep updated to meet the current educational needs.”
To see the report from the Carson City School District’s master plan committee, go to carsoncityschools.com and click on the item in the right-hand column of the page.