A trio of $2 million improvement projects to Linton-Stockton Schools, including upgrades to the elementary roof and a two-stage expansion of the middle school, will add between 14 and 19 cents per day to the average tax bill within the school district.
School board members approved the bond issue 4-0 Monday night in a special 1028 hearing designed to discuss the potential tax impact of the new construction with the public.
Board member Frank Gennicks was absent.
Despite the call for public comment, none came during the special meeting.
"Any comment?" Board President Rodney Bredeweg asked, then paused. "Seeing none, we will move forward."
Support has generally been strong for the project
Attorney Jeffrey J. Qualkinbush of the Indianapolis law firm Barnes and Thornburg, discussing the impact on taxpayers with school board members and the building corporation, emphasized that due to the retirement of some past debts, the expected increase to the school's debt is minimal.
While this year's payment was $1 million for prior projects, the new bond issues -- not to exceed $2 million per stage of the project or $6 million total -- the added debt will only incur around an additional $182,000 annually.
The maximum interest rate, he added, will be capped at 4 percent, and could potentially run far lower, perhaps 2 to 2.5 percent.
"There should not in any way be a significant impact on the property taxes residents of the school corporation pay," Qualkinbush said. As examples, he cited the tax impact on the appraised value of two trustees' homes, though he did not specify which trustees.
In one case, a home whose assessed value was $99,100 saw an annual tax bill increase by $52, amounting to 14 cents per day.
Should the maximum interest rate on the project of four percent be imposed, that would increase to around $70 more annually, or 19 cents per day.
A home whose assessed valuation was $160,000 owned by one of the other school trustees would see its tax bill increase by $67.20 annually under the projected interest rate of around 2 percent, or $88 annually under the maximum interest rate on the bonds of 4 percent.
That 1028 hearing followed a meeting of the Linton-Stockton Building Corp. wherein that board moved 4-1 to proceed with the project.
Indiana law requires that a building corporation be established to lease new property and expansions from the school corporation to move forward with projects. School board members had previously established the school building corporation for other projects, including the construction of the new high school and other improvements.
Thus, the existing lease agreements between the school and the board were modified and amended, with board agreeing to the extension in their own separate hearing an hour later.
Building Corporation President Joe Lannan, the sole opponent of the new building project, only did so, he explained, because he opposed the inclusion of new tennis courts in the projects.
Those tennis courts, Superintendent Nick Karazsia said, are low priority and would only be done if funds remain for other projects after the high priority work is completed.
Whether that will happen, Karazsia added, is questionable.
The next steps for the project will be for the school corporation to seek construction bids on the three projects, designated 2012-A, 2012-B, and 2013 for their years of issue.
Those bids are expected around Thanksgiving, with the bond issue probable by year's end, said Qualkinbush.
"There could be hiccups, of course, but we expect the construction bids to come in around Thanksgiving," he said.
Once the bonds are issued, the school corporation will establish a construction fund, disbursing the money as they would from any other school fund.
The new construction projects undertake an array of proposed changes to the school, most crucial of which are upgrades to the elementary school's roof, improvements to heating and cooling systems, and the two-stage expansion of the middle school.
That expansion, which will connect the middle school and high school, moving north and east from the present middle school entry, will add eight classrooms and around 172 lockers, a move made to accommodate the shift of sixth graders from the elementary to the middle school.
Also potentially on tap are an array of other improvements, including pavement repair, new tennis courts and parking lot work, said William E. Payne, executive director of Fanning and Howey architectural firm July 16.
"We know not everything may get done," Karazsia said. "I don't really want to call this a wish list, but it is things we would like to see happen as soon as they can happen."