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Board Discusses Bond Referendum in Hopes of Building New School

(From left to right) Lafayette School Board Members Kimberly East, Judith Thompson, Brent Larson, Leroy Thompson and Bill McGregor.

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor
The Lafayette County School District, Lafayette School Bond Committee and school administrators held a public meeting Monday night regarding the district’s proposal for a $23 million bond referendum regarding building a new elementary school and renovations and upgrades to current buildings.
“The entire district is at capacity with students,” Superintendent Adam Pugh said.
Pugh said he and District Business Manager Mark Brown met with the school’s attorney Jim Young several years ago to refinance the district’s debt in order to finance for new construction.
“We refinanced the current debt that we had,” Pugh said. “We saved the district about $800,000 in refinancing [the current debt].”
The district needed to refinance the current debt in order to borrow more money from the county because LCSD is only allowed to legally borrow up to 15 percent of the county’s total assessed value.
The assessed value of the county is currently $155 million, which would allow the LCSD to borrow approximately $23 million if the bond passes and a vote among Lafayette county residents is favorable.
Young said if the bond were to pass, taxpayers of Lafayette county would most likely have to pay a 1-mill tax increase on properties and car tags.
The 1-mill tax increase is applied to the total assessed value of a property and is $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Young said car tags differ from houses. Cars are not valued at what consumers pay to a dealership (market price) due to the depreciation of vehicles. If a 1-mill tax was applied to a $25,000 car, taxpayers would pay $7.50 a year.
“It is important to stress that the tax impact for each property owner is unique to that property owner,” Young said. “What I am giving [audience members] are general figures that are accurate, but each property owner needs to check his or her [assessed] value.”
Young also added that if the bond was to pass, LCSD would have to repay the principal amount borrowed and interest. He said the state term is typically 20 years but could be shorter if the situation is allowed.
As a temporary fix, Pugh said the school district will be adding five or six trailers to campus for classrooms, but the trailers would not be for core classes such as math, science and English.
If the bond is denied, the only solution the school district would have for overcrowding would be adding additional trailers, which would result in 12 total trailers by 2023, Pugh said. For every five years, the campus would add an additional six trailers.
Cause for concern came from the audience regarding safety issues with the trailers. Many parents felt that the trailers would allow safety risks with students going to and from actual buildings to the temporary classrooms.
Pugh said his and the district’s first priority is always keeping students safe.
The school board will vote on whether to pursue the bond later this summer. If the board votes to move forward, it could be up for Lafayette County residents to vote on as early as this fall.

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