Taxpayers said ‘no’ in November, but school board members will ask voters to approve a new plan for the same schools this fall.
The Tooele County School Board voted unanimously during their Tuesday night meeting to ask voters to approve a bond to build three new schools in the county.
Voters rejected, with a 58% no vote, a $190 million bond for the new schools in the November 2019 election.
The difference, this time the amount will be $170 million and, if approved, tax payers will see no increase in the amount of property taxes they pay to the school district.
The $20 million savings will be achieved by dropping $10 million that was to be used for security upgrades to existing schools — security upgrades will be funded through other capital expense routes.
Another $10 million will be saved through yet to be determined savings in building costs. The school district’s fund balance will be used as a contingency reserve, instead of the 5% contingency normally built into the budget for new construction.
“We’ve always called the fund balance a rainy day fund,” said Maresa Manzione, school board chairwoman. “Well, it’s raining.”
Board member Scott Bryan was adamant about reducing the amount of the bond request to at least $170 million.
“Coming back with anything more would be turning a deaf ear to the voters,” he said.
At one point during Tuesday night’s discussion, Bryan said if the board approved a motion to ask for $180 million in bonds he would not only vote against it, but he would volunteer to write the voters guide statement in opposition to the bond.
A recent analysis by Zions Bank shows that at anticipated bond rates and with the school district scheduled to pay off several existing bonds over the next few years, bonds for $170 million can be issued in a way that there would be no net increase to taxpayers, according to Lark Reynolds, Tooele County school district business administrator.
While the net property tax paid would not go up if the bonds are approved, the net property tax would also not go down.
Because of the retiring bonds, the owner of a $250,000 might see around a $150 per year decrease in property tax, if a new bond is not approved by voters, Reynolds estimated.
If approved, the new bonds would pay for a high school in the Tooele City-Overlake area, junior high school in Stansbury Park,and an elementary school in Grantsville.