Why does the district run school bonds?

Calling for school bond elections are the mechanism school boards have to generate funds to update existing facilities or build new facilities. School districts receive facility maintenance funds from the state, but large scale construction requires larger budgets and the state directs districts to ask their local taxpayer to support facility needs.

Is the district asking for this money because of the shortfall last time?

Yes and No.

The shortfall election called for $15 million to complete projects. This bond is $56.7 million. When the citizen’s group first met to discuss needs in the schools, driven by growth, they did not simply look at what didn’t get finished. They looked at what needed to happen to meet the critical, immediate and short term needs. Believe it or not, the list or projects that made the final cut was revised four times before the Board made their final decisions. And we define revises as paired down.

This bond is not about fixing the problems of the 2015 bond.

It’s about 5 things:

  1. addressing growth
  2. large scale maintenance
  3. workforce needs in the area (tech center expansion)
  4. heating, cooling and ventilation improvements ($8 million alone)
  5. operational efficiencies

What projects didn’t get completed last time?

Classrooms at Burley High School.

Remodel of Dworshak

Air conditioning at BJHS (they got the heat, not the A/C)

Completed Elementary at Declo Elementary

There were a number of smaller items in Oakley, Raft River and Albion

Examples:

RR-wrestling room, parking, site finishes

OAK- classrooms, site finishes, parking, lighting

Albion-windows

How come our bonds always have so many projects on them?

In a consolidated district, school levies and taxes take in all 18 schools around the county. Bonds don’t have to include projects from every community on them, but the Board believes the evidence is there to support the recommendations made by the citizen’s committee and through their own investigation.

It’s worth noting that in other, non consolidated districts, totals are indeed smaller. If smaller districts in our region were consolidated and therefore forced to run joint bonds, you would see large school bonds from them too. For example, if Richfield, Dietrich, Shoshone, Jerome and Wendell were to consolidate bonds, you would see the kinds of numbers that Cassia puts forward to their voters.

Minidoka is currently running a bond for $20 million. They have 8 schools in their whole district. Cassia has 8 in Burley alone.

Cassia is a model around the state for the efficiencies of consolidation. It can be a challenge when calling for school bond elections because meeting needs on a large scale comes with a larger price tag.

The 2015 bond has some problems. What’s different this time?

There are a number of significant differences

  1. Cost estimates were vetted independently. Outside construction teams, multiple architects, and conceptual designs provided the needed checks and balances.
  2. The Board did their own and independent analysis of facility recommendations, once presented.
  3. The citizen’s group worked independently of the Board.
  4. New leadership at the Board and district level
  5. Three year’s worth of completed projects added experience and perspective.
  6. District policy enacted which directs the process and procedures for future boards when calling for bond elections. (Policy
  7. New Maintenance structure, procedures and managing software.
  8. Process for strategic plan and new mission statement initiated.

When is the election and who can vote?

March 12, 2019. Any registered voter can vote at their regular polling place. In order to pass, voters must approve it by 67%.

What happens if the bond fails?

We don’t know and can’t say yet. The growth is here and there are many needs. The Board will make decisions according to individual school needs and limited budgets. It could mean anything from split schedules at Burley high school to reduced program offerings at other high schools to maintaining aging facilities at elementary schools.

What does this do to my taxes?

Currently our taxpayers are levied at a rate of .00293 for all school related taxes, bonds, supplemental and plant facility levies. The new rate would be .00437 for everything. That’s a .00144 increase.

Cassia county grew by $250 million in 2018 and our conservative projections for 2019, with known property values coming online, is $230 million.   That $230 million is represented by the expansion of McCain foods and the new construction of NuCold.  We know there are several other entities to come online in 2019 but we don’t have the accurate information on them yet. ( New hotel in Burley and Dow Chemical )   Once those properties are added into the taxes, using our averages for school levies, we know that people will pay about 39% LESS in their school taxes.

We have an issue representing the tax impact. We cannot show the reduction of taxes with the new properties coming to the county on the ballot. We can explain it to people but we have to reflect current conditions with the ballot language.   We’re in this gap of sorts. The ballot language will show an increase but if it passes, December taxes will be levied at a lower rate than what the ballot depicted.

So the obvious question is why didn’t we wait until the new taxes come to the county? We are trying to take advantage of interest rates and an attractive construction timeline to maximize completion of needed projects.

We have a tax calculator on our website to make it easy to see exactly what you would pay. Tax Calculator