Archive for Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Bond issue commits to Linwood

School officials promise to maintain presence in Linwood

January 21, 2003

Basehor-Linwood School District officials didn't use the $1.6 million approved by voters in a 1997 bond issue for the Linwood area.

They actually spent more, school officials said Thursday, Jan. 9, during a public forum at Basehor-Linwood Middle School.

"The money allocated (during the 1997 bond issue) was $1.6 million and what we actually spent (in Linwood) was $2.1 million," said Don Swartz, Basehor-Linwood School District director of building operations.

Improvements in Linwood included, among others, adding a new heating and air conditioning system, electrical work and remodeling parts of the first floor and basement.

School officials reminded voters of the district's track record in Linwood because of rumors concerning the current bond issue proposal.

Rumors like an approved bond issue being the first step in phasing out schools in Linwood.

Not true, said Cal Cormack, school district superintendent.

"I think that answers any question on whether this board wants to maintain its position in Linwood," he said, citing that an approved bond issue would funnel another $3.7 million into the Linwood schools.

On Jan. 21, voters will decide whether the school district can proceed with plans for the $29.9 million bond issue.

The funds would pay for renovations at Linwood, Glenwood and Basehor elementaries and the construction of a new middle school on 79 acres of land on County Road 2.

During Thursday's public forum, opposition to the proposed bond issue was light, and less than those opposed to it at a forum earlier in the week at Basehor-Linwood High School.

At BLHS, audience members questioned costs, building plans and the necessity for a bond issue. At the Linwood hearing, forum participants were concerned primarily with the costs of an approved bond.

School district taxpayers are paying approximately 8.48 mills for the 1997 bond. A new bond would raise the mill levy to 23.45 mills, school officials said.

A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

Under an approved bond, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $172.16 in taxes a year.

However, school officials said the projections are the "absolute worst-case scenario" and that the current bond proposal would "never be cheaper than it is now," said John McArthur, district financial advisor.

The projected figures are based on 5 percent growth when the growth rate for the district has been 10 percent over recent years. Interest rates are also at an all-time low, McArthur said.

"You're getting more for less cost than what we've experienced in the past," he said. "This is the cheapest it's ever going to be."

Another question arising at the meeting was when another bond issue would be proposed.

School officials said future school construction could be needed in the near future.

"Every five years, while you're (school district) is in a growth mode, you can count on some new construction," Swartz said.

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