District 200 Officials Want $18M Referendum to Rebuild Jefferson
District 200 board members agree they want to use bonds to rebuild Jefferson Early Childhood Center, adding $16 to $42 to taxpayers' bills. The board will vote on a final referendum question in January.
District 200 Board of Education members agreed Wednesday they want to put a referendum on the spring ballot asking voters if they'd support the use of bonds to fund the entire Jefferson Early Childhood Center project.
The project, estimated to cost up to $18.3 million, would mean increased tax payments of $16 to $42, bond counsel Bob Lewis told board members Wednesday.
After community forums and a survey on the district’s plan to rebuild Jefferson, district staff and Legat architects revised a $29 million concept combining the school and district administrative offices to address residents’ concerned. Patrick Brosnan of Legat Architects presented two new designs Wednesday that would cost about $18.3 million. (Look for Patch story on new design concepts)
Bob Lewis, senior vice president of PMA Securities, laid out two financing options for a new Jefferson facility at the Wednesday meeting, focusing on making an amortized principal payment when most of the district’s existing debt is paid off in levy year 2023, or fiscal year 2025.
District 200 Superintendent Dr. Brian Harris said the district’s current debt is from capital projects, including Longfellow Elementary School, renovations at both high schools, and the new Hubble Middle School.
An $18.3 million referendum would bring $18.3 million in proceeds, with estimated payments of $26.3 million over time, or about $8 million in interest, Lewis said. The tax rate increase would be slightly higher than 2.5 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation (EAV).
He said the impact on taxpayers would be an additional $16 for a $200,000 home, $25 for a $300,000 home, $33 for a $400,000 home and $42 for a $500,000 home.
Lewis also presented a $6.7 million referendum as an option if the board chooses to use capital development funds and a bond issue.
The tax rate increase would be about 1 cent per $100 of EAV, and taxpayer increases would be $6, $9, $12 and $15 for homeowners in $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 and $500,000 homes, respectively.
Harris said he would “strongly encourage” the board to go with the $18.3 million referendum.
“We have some pretty significant needs we have identified outside this project. We have some operating costs I’m concerned about (in the near future)… (And) we’ve got a fund balance policy to maintain,” he said.
Adopted in March 2012, the board fund balance policy targets a fund balance of 25 to 40 percent of 90 to 140 days of the district’s operating costs. Board president Rosemary Swanson said dipping into the district’s funds would “deplete” the fund balance beyond the policy.
Board member Andy Johnson said after “years and years” of building toward the policy, he wants to stick to it and bond the entire project.
Board vice president Barb Intihar agreed. “We did that for a sound financial reason… We’d be selling ourselves short, (selling) our district short, if we dug into that (fund balance).”
Staff will prepare other potential payment scenarios for the board's consideration at its next regular meeting, including frontloading the principal payment in the first five years, which would further increase tax payments.
The board will deliberate at the Dec. 12 meeting to refine a plan before making a decision Jan. 9. The Dec. 12 meeting is at Lowell Elementary School.
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