Hulbert seeking school bond

Hulbert School Board members are asking for a bond.

Members of the Hulbert Board of Education on Monday approved a special election calling for a general obligation bond.

The $1.2 million bond would be paid over 10 years, starting with a 19.34 percent increase the first year. At least 85 percent of the bond would legally need to used for predetermined projects. Board President Linda Baker asked during the meeting how much taxes would go up if the bond was passed during the special election, which will take place March 3, 2015.

“The first year is always the highest year, then it drops,” said Tom Frazier, vice president of Stephen H. McDonald & Associates Inc., the financial adviser firm representing the school district.

Frazier did some calculations during the meeting to show how the percent increase would change over time. But initially, he suggested during the public meeting that those figures, along with the original 19.34 percent increase, not be published.

The 19.34 percent increase would not go into affect until the 2015-16 tax year.

“Any growth you have in evaluation will make that go down,” said Frazier. “I want it to look like the worse case.”

Frazier said the school district has had a small amount of growth and will most likely continue to slowly grow as the bond is paid. If the school district does shrink, the percentage paid by each taxpayer will go up, though the opposite is expected. Money from the bond would pay for four different projects. The first listed project is the construction and equipment for a new cafeteria and saferoom building. FEMA has already agreed to pay for 75 percent of the building itself, based on submitted designs by an architect. Baker said the building would be important for the entire community as an easily-accessed safe room for the entire town.

“No school really knows what the costs are until the bidding goes out,” Frazier said of the cafeteria and saferoom building, as well as the other projects covered by the bond.

Baker asked if FEMA would pay for 75 percent, no matter the final cost of the building, or if it only agreed to pay 75 percent of what the architect projected.

Superintendent Marilyn Dewoody said FEMA would only pay 75 percent of the amount projected in the original grant application.

Frazier said the wording on the bid is purposely broad enough to change the proposed amount of money going toward each project if bids for each project come back higher than expected.

The other projects included in the bond are renovating the existing cafeteria into classrooms; purchasing new kitchen equipment; and purchasing and installing a new security system, which would include video phones. The final project covered by the bond is constructing covered walkways.

The amount of money projected to go to the new cafeteria and saferoom is $285,000. The renovation of the old cafeteria, along with purchasing new equipment, is projected at $795,000.

The new security system is expected to cost $80,000 and the covered sidewalks are expected to cost $40,000. Board members Rachel Mc Alvain, Kathy Ritchie and Baker approved the bond. Board members Matt Meredith and Marty Wynn were not at the meeting. Frazier advised the board to begin creating a committee to pass the bond after the board approved the special election for the bond.

Hulbert voters turned down a school bond proposal worth $2.6 million in 2010 by a vote of 271-175, and rejected another bond proposal worth more than $1.7 million in 2012 by a vote of 216-159. Sixty-percent approval is needed to pass a school bond proposal.

Both the 2010 and 2012 bond proposals were placed on the regular February ballots for school board elections.

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