OLIVIA — BOLD School Board members trimmed the bond issue they are putting to voters in February by $1.5 million at a special meeting on Monday.
On a unanimous vote, board members approved a resolution asking voters to approve a $57.4 million bond to build a new PreK-grade 12 school adjacent to the Olivia Hospital and Clinic property in Olivia. Board members had approved putting a $58.9 million bond referendum to voters at their Nov. 23 meeting.
The referendum on Feb. 9, 2021, will continue to include two questions for voters. The first question seeks approval of $57.4 million for the new school. The second asks for approval of a $5,210,000 bond for a new athletic and activities complex at the site.
The $1.5 million trimmed from the project represents funding the board members had intended to provide the Bird Island Economic Development Agency to aid in the possible re-purposing of the elementary school facilities for private use. Board members said there was confusion after they learned on Nov. 23 that the $1.5 million could not be allocated to the Bird Island EDA.
Board members reiterated that their original intention was to provide the funding for Bird Island. “Intentions were good, unfortunately it can’t happen,” said board member Melissa Segedahl during discussions on Monday.
Ryan Hoffman, consultant with ICS, said that it was determined that it would not be legal for the board to award the $1.5 million in bond funds to the Bird Island EDA.
At the November meeting, board members kept the $1.5 million as part of the overall bond referendum. The funds would have been available for additional land purchase, as well as the purchase of additional furniture and fixtures and as contingency for construction costs, according to Ryan.
The consultant said the project budget was originally developed without expectations of the $1.5 million. The $1.5 million is not needed to meet the original building plans. They include acquiring 15 acres of land for the building site and 18 acres for the athletic and activities complex, for a total of 33 acres.
Board member Sandy Benson urged board members to trim the $1.5 million from the referendum to be fair to taxpayers. “This is not our checkbook. This is the community’s checkbook,” she said.
Board members agreed. “I feel we’re all on the same page here” said Jill Hanson, board chair, before members approved the change.
The $1.5 million would have cost taxpayers about $2.2 million in principal and interest payments over the course of the bond retirement, according to Mike Hoheisel, school financial consultant. Its removal from the bond reduces the projected, monthly tax impact on a $100,000 residence from $19.63 to $19.12.
By acting this week, the bond referendum remains on track for the Feb. 9 date, according to Hoffman. The district will provide options for either in-person or mail-in voting. The district has roughly 3,500 registered voters. It will be printing 4,000 ballots to be certain a ballot is available to every eligible voter whether they choose to vote by mail or in-person, according to information presented at the meeting.