Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WELLMAN — The Mid-Prairie school board took another step forward toward funding a proposed $36.62 million facilities project.
At Monday’s meeting, the board, following a public hearing that drew now public input, unanimously approved a resolution to allow the sale of up to $14.5 million in Sales, Services and Use Tax Revenue Bonds.
“In order to use sales tax money, the board doesn’t have to put that up in front of the people, but they have to have this public hearing to give anybody an opportunity to object to that,” Superintendent Mark Schneider said.
The board was required by law to hold two public hearings on the matter.
“The first one is can we use sales tax to sell these bonds and use sales tax to pay them back,” Schneider said. “That’s approximately $14.5 million. If those projects include an athletic facility — which this one may or may not — … you have to have a second public hearing to say, ‘We may be building an athletic facility using those sales taxes.’”
Athletic facilities are currently included in the proposed project. They include a new gym for the middle school, a new wrestling and weight facility at the high school, new lights at the softball field and resurfacing the high school track.
Other non-athletic items proposed are new classrooms at East Elementary, the middle school and the high school, as well as a 600-seat auditorium at the high school.
The district’s plan is to fund the $37.62 million project through three sources.
“The construction project is going to be funded three ways: the bonds — the general obligation bonds — that the public gives them permission to sell,” Schneider explained. “The other part that will be used to fund the project is sales tax — bonds they sell and use sales tax to pay them back.”
The third funding source is private contributions. Schneider said that the district is currently sitting on $1.4 million in contributions earmarked for a new auditorium.
“There are people who want to do more fundraising, and there might be other large donors out there too,” he said. “When the dust settles, hopefully, the contributions are going to pay a bigger share than right now.”
The district is currently gathering signatures for a petition to allow the sale of up to $26 million in general obligation bonds to be on a March 1 public ballot.
“We need 25% of the number of people who voted in the last election,” Schneider said last week. “We need 725, but you always like to get extra. So, the goal is 850, which is probably more than what we need.
“It’s just 850 people who live in the district that are 18 years and older. They didn’t have to vote in the last election, but they have to be potential electors.”
A Jan. 5 deadline was set to gather the necessary signatures, which would give the district time to certify the signatures before the Jan. 10 school board meeting.