VB board likely to put tax on ballot

VAN BUREN — The Van Buren school board today will consider a proposal to officially place a $28.7 million school construction bond issue on the November ballot.
Superintendent Tim Myers has recommended the tax issue and he expects the board will approve it, he said. The board will meet at 7 p.m. in the district’s community room.
“It’s the board’s decision but unless they’ve come up with another proposal, I would anticipate they’ll approve it,” Myers said.
The 30-year, 6.96-mill bond issue is replacing a 37-year, $29.3 million proposal that voters turned down in May. Earlier this month, the board scrapped the earlier plan in favor of a shorter payoff time.
Both proposals would pay for a new gym and 34 classrooms. The reduction in money could result in a 2 percent decrease in the size of the new facilities, but Myers is hoping there will be little shrinkage.
Myers has said the old part of Van Buren school is suffering from severe leaks and deterioration and its age, 96 years, makes it difficult to implement technology in older areas.
The board today will likely discuss how it can be successful with its new tax request.
The $29.3 million bond issue was shot down by voters in May with 853 votes, or 62 percent, against it, according to the Hancock County Board of Elections. The bond issue had 527 voters in favor.
“At this point the key part is we must do a better job at getting the message out to voters, this time around,” Myers said.
School board members said the dollar amount and the length of the previous bond issue, 37 years, may have kept residents from voting for it, leading the board to opt for about $600,000 less and a decrease of seven years in bond issue length.
Earlier this month, the school board also released results of a June survey it conducted. The district aimed to gauge residents’ opinions on whether the district should build new, renovate, or move its campus to another location.
The survey showed people were split on whether they would vote for another tax, and why.
About 47 percent of those surveyed said they thought building new facilities was a “high priority” and about 36 percent said the public couldn’t afford the bond issue the district placed on the May ballot.
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