Archive for Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Taxing questions

Bond issue would add 23 mills to patrons’ tax bills

January 8, 2003

Although attendance was low, patrons got their first chance to ask questions Monday night concerning the Basehor-Linwood school district's proposed $30 million bond issue.

The bond issue vote is set for Jan. 21 and will decide whether school officials can proceed with plans to build a new Basehor-Linwood Middle School, and renovate Linwood, Glenwood and Basehor elementary schools. If the bond issue passes, it would increase the district's bond debt by about 280 percent.

School district taxpayers currently pay about 8 mills for a previous bond issue, passed in 1997. A new bond issue would raise the mill levy to a little more than 23 mills, school officials said. A mill is $1,000 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

The owner of a $100,000 house would pay an additional $172.16 in taxes a year if the bond issue is successful, district officials said.A second public forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Basehor-Linwood Middle School.

John McArthur, school district financial adviser, told the 20 people gathered Monday night that bond issue was based on conservative growth estimates. He said unsuccessful bond issues in the past were more costly on a square-foot basis than this one would be.

Cal Cormack, superintendent, added: "I think we have done a very good job of being fiscally responsible in this district."

For the past 16 months, school officials have monitored area growth. Based on current and projected construction, the bond issue proposal was formulated.

Some audience members warned school officials of building new schools based on projected growth when the nation and state economies are in limbo.

"(That new growth could) be offset by those of us moving out because of these taxes," said Sandra Clark, a Basehor resident.

But school officials said existing schools are overcrowded.

Marilyn Daniels, a Basehor resident who teaches in Tonganoxie, sympathized with the district's need for space.

"I don't think this bond issue is 'let's make this gorgeous,'" Daniels said. "It's 'we don't have room for these kids.'

"There is a great need for space," she added.

Most of the bond issue would finance a $21 million middle school on a 79-acre tract on Leavenworth County Road 2, just east of Glenwood Ridge Elementary School.

The new school will house sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, which officials said would be an advantage to students both developmentally and educationally.

"(The grade configuration) is loved by staff, better for students' needs and offers more stability in transition for development," Principal Mike Boyd said.

Boyd said the middle school is at 84.3 percent capacity and the average class size is 28 to 30 students.

Audience members asked why the new middle school would need 79 acres.

School officials said only 40 acres would be used for the school and the other acreage was purchased as part of the package.

Cormack said the additional land is "nothing but a good investment," and could be used for construction or sold in the future.

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