Archive for Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bond issue’s effects on mill levy take shape

January 13, 2005

The Lansing school bond proposal could cost a typical homeowner between $86 and $110 in higher property taxes this year, Lansing School Board members learned this week.

Greg Vahrenberg, a representative with Piper Jaffray, the board's financial adviser on the bond issue, presented two options for the board to consider for the $23.6 million bond issue. Board members will ask voters in April to approve the bond issue, which would allow the district to build a new K-5 elementary school, an auditorium and instrumental music addition to the existing high school, and add site improvements such as parking and entry road alterations.

In one of Vahrenberg's financing options, the district would sell the bonds into two parts, $13.6 million in 2005 and the remaining $10 million in 2006. Under that option, the levy would increase about 5 mills when property tax bills are due in December.

A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. For a home appraised at $150,000 - a figure city officials say is about average -5 mills would amount to a property tax increase of about $86.

The second option called for issuing the full $23.6 million this year. It would add more than 6.4 mills to the levy, which translates into a property tax increase of about $110 for a home appraised at $150,000.

In the first option, the mill levy would increase slightly in the second year of the payoff until beginning to level off in years three through seven. In the second option, the levy would drop 2 mills in 2006 and continue to drop gradually in each succeeding year.

By the time the fifth year of the payback rolled around, in 2009, the tax consequences would be nearly the same under both options, figures from Vahrenberg showed.

Brian Bode, the board's vice president, seemed to lean toward a single sum rather than splitting the bond up.

"I know it's hard to say 7 (mills) immediately, but we may just have to take our lumps," Bode said.

Randal Bagby, superintendent of schools, said the board wouldn't vote on which option, if either, to choose until after the bond election.

"We will need to analyze the market and figure out the best solution with regard to interest rates, etc.," Bagby said in an e-mail.

He said building new facilities wouldn't be affected by which option the board chooses because not all the money would be required in the beginning construction phase.

In other action at Monday's meeting, the board met in executive session to evaluate Bagby's job performance. Afterward, the board renewed Bagby's contract for another year.

Bagby said his salary would remain the same for now, though there is a possibility for increase in the future, depending on available funding and job performance.

School Board President Shelly Gowdy said the board so far had no complaints about Bagby's performance.

"Where do I start?" Gowdy said of discussing Bagby's achievements in his first year on the job. "He's an exceptionally good communicator, he's already done a lot to start building teams in the district. : He has an open-door policy to everyone, which I think is starting to build more trust in the superintendent position."

Gowdy added that she thought Bagby was particularly strong at listening and team building.

The board reviews the superintendent's job performance every January.

Also Monday, the board approved the hiring of Bryan Shelley as the head boys' tennis coach and Rosalee Taylor as an elementary school cook.

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