R-1 Board approves no tax increase bond issue ballot question

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 2/12/20

VIENNA — The Maries R-1 School Board unanimously approved the resolution for the special bond issue to be on the April 7, 2020 Municipal Election ballot. At the January meeting, board members …

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R-1 Board approves no tax increase bond issue ballot question

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VIENNA — The Maries R-1 School Board unanimously approved the resolution for the special bond issue to be on the April 7, 2020 Municipal Election ballot. At the January meeting, board members approved the paperwork for the ballot language that asks district patrons to authorize and approve general obligation bonds not to exceed $2.5 million in order to pay for needed improvements at the school.

Approval by district voters of the no tax increase bond issue will continue the $0.44 debt service levy taxpayers currently are paying. It will not increase taxes, but it will extend the life of the bonds by an estimated six years. The bonds originally were obligated to pay for the new high school. Depending upon interest rates, the district could benefit from the excess from the debt service levy to pay for up to $2.5 million in projects over a period of two to three years.

The list of needed improvements focuses primarily on safety and energy efficiency. Superintendent Mark Parker listed the projects that need to be done. The main entrances to the high school and elementary school need safety vestibules for people coming into the building to check in with staff. Another safety issue is replacing older exterior doors, ensuring they have good locks, and eliminating or reducing the size of large windows around the doors. For safety, the district plans to put electronic swipes on some of the main entrance doors. Safety and energy efficiency will be improved by replacing the existing banks of windows in the elementary and middle school. Those areas can be framed up and the number of windows reduced. Another needed project is renovating the old library into a band room and building a hallway and a concession stand into the gym entrance. The band room is in the basement and a student currently in a wheelchair has to be taken outside to get to the room. This project will provide an ADA entrance. Improvements to the parking lot are needed such as drainage, replacing or resurfacing, and lighting improvements. Improvements to the track also is on the list as the school district has to do something or it will no longer have a track. It’s condition is that poor and what exactly will be done to the track is yet to be determined. 

The board also approved using LJ Hart & Company for the bond underwriting. Parker said the district has used LJ Hart in the past as well as other districts and all are satisfied with the company’s service. Board Vice President Penny Schoene said there is a conflict of interest when the underwriter sells the bonds as there could be a financial gain. She asked Parker to talk to the state auditor’s office about this issue. Parker said LJ Hart is good and reputable and Schoene agreed and said she will support this tonight but thinks the board needs to understand the whole issue with the underwriter selling the bonds.

The board also approved a request for qualifications for the bond issue, which will be advertised. It is a request for the qualifications of companies the board will choose from to assist the district as it completes the projects within the bond issue. This is contingent upon the bond issue passing.

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