Archive for Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Past used to predict future for bond issue

March 30, 2011

Tonganoxie USD 464 administrators and consultants looked to the past when making estimates used for information the district provides for its $26.9 million bond proposal.

USD 464 voters will be asked April 5 to approve a $26.9 million bond issue. Informational material on the proposal can be found at www.tong464.org.

Should the bond referendum pass, the district would build a $16.8 million second- through fifth-grade intermediate elementary school, make $450,00 in renovations to the current elementary school and construct a $5.9 million addition at the high school to connect its two current building with a new library, classrooms and add high school and district offices.

USD 464 Superintendent Kyle Hayden said the projections in the district bond informational data were based on what the district experienced the past 10 years. The projections assume continuation of the past decade’s 2.5 percent annual enrollment increase and 3 percent yearly assessed valuation increase will continue, he said.

“We think that’s conservative because of what we’ve seen,” he said. “There’s the potential for it to be flat the next two years but when the economy picks back up, we could see more than that.”

It’s true the recession and housing mortgage crisis slowed has stalled development and valuation increases, Hayden said. But the bond projections assume the district will continue to see a general increase in enrollment and development while experiencing peaks and valleys, which has been the historical trend, he said.

“We don’t only focus on what’s just transpired the last two years,” he said. “We need to look at longer term implications, especially when we’re talking abut a school construction program that takes three years to complete.”

And despite the current struggling economy, there is evidence the Tonganoxie community will soon see the effects of metropolitan development, Hayden said.

“There is activity around us, especially to the east,” he said. “That is only 15 miles away and is undeniable. Those building are being constructed as we speak. We know the jobs are coming.

“Tonganoxie was definitely impacted when Legends came in. With construction now, that will reach us.”

The district estimates the annual debt payments for the bond will increase the USD 464 mill levy 9 mills. Nine mills would equal $8.69 a month or $104.34 annually for each $100,000 of appraised valuation on a single-family home.

The bond has a 25-year retirement schedule. The district’s bond informational material states annual tax implication to homeowners would decrease with growth and more homeowners or businesses share in the payments.

Gretche Busche, of The Committee for the Kids opposing the bond, said the district’s projections were guesses.

“It’s the deal with projections; one never knows,” she said. “We can only hope more people will come to Tonganoxie, but could lose people as people move for the higher paying jobs in the city.”

As for the estimated 9-mill increase, it wouldn’t hurt her family but would cause pain to some in the community, Busche said.

“It’s not going to affect us like it could those on fixed incomes,” she said. “That’s were people are going to see a difference.”

District residents deserved the best return on their dollars, and better solutions could be found for the elementary school space crunch and district office needs, Busche said.

Although he is confident the bond’s assumed growth projections will be realized, they are not the thrust of the bond proposal, Hayden said.

“Projects still focus on immediate needs we know exist,” he said. “It does allow us to have some space to grow in the future. Regardless of future growth, we still have safety issues at the high school and elementary school the community has outgrown. Those are items that will still be on the table.

“I hope we can fix it.”

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