Archive for Thursday, September 14, 2006

District consultants suggest 2007 bond referendum

September 14, 2006

The Eudora USD 491 Board of Education could have a citizens' advisory group in place this fall to help it craft what consultants say should be a $40 million bond issue.

According to a preliminary timeline presented by Kevin Greischar of DLR Group ---- the district's architecture company for the bond ---- the district could look to form a citizen's advisory committee as soon as October.

"Where we want to go next is to identify the different groups we have in the community and make sure we have a representative from every one of those," Superintendent Marty Kobza said.

Although board members agreed citizen input was important as early as possible, the group decided to postpone discussion on the bond timeline until its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the culinary arts classroom at the Eudora Community Learning Center, 10th and Main streets.

The decision came after the board members heard a presentation from the district's accountant, Steve Shogren, and a presentation on a possible timeline and scope from Greischar.

Shogren focused on the feasibility of scheduling the bond referendum as soon as 2007 in order to keep the district's mill rate as steady as possible.Shogren assumed the district's assessed evaluation would continue to increase at about 5 percent and that the proposed facilities would be packaged in four $10 million phases. He also assumed the $40 million bond issue would have a debt service of 20 years.

"In essence you've been levying 22 to 23 mills or more, and I think with your assessed evaluation growing and your constant growth, you can conservatively begin a $40 million capital improvement program and the mill levy would be close to 23 mills," Shogren said.

By moving up the bond issue, the district could benefit in two ways, Shogren said. First, if the district had a 2007 referendum, it could start paying the debt off by 2008 and keep the overall mill rate steady. If the district had the referendum in 2008, it would be at least another year before payments could be budgeted.

"I think for financing, there's a better transition if it were a 2007 fall election or something in the first half of 2008 -- that would work out fine," Shogren said.

The district would be able to make use of the new facilities sooner with a 2007 referendum, Greischar said while presenting a proposed timeline of project construction.

Should the referendum be in November 2007, the first major project would be a 1,000-student elementary school, Greischar said.

"We had to create a pre-grading package and a utility package that helped to set up the time where we could have the November bond issue then go into the design right away, in order to get this building open for the school year of 2009," John Clement, also of DLR Group said.

A new stadium could also be part of the first phase of construction and ready by August 2008.

"We'd have to go through discussion as groups," Kobza said. "These are just thing we've talked about in general terms."

Other projects on the preliminary timeline included an addition to the high school, a new technical facility, an addition to the middle school and a new central administration office.

After hearing the possibilities presented by Greischar, board member Mark Chrislip said both the timing and scope of the bond issue needed much more discussion.

"My concern was that this timeline kind of forces us to get something done in this time format, and I don't want that to be a pressure that forces us to make foolish decisions," Chrislip said.

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