The Ames school board voted 5-1 Monday to place a $55 million bond referendum to replace and rebuild five elementary schools on an April 3 ballot.
If approved, it could raise taxes by as much as $1.13 per assessed $1,000 valuation. That's about $54 a year more in property taxes for a home assessed at $100,000. The cost is dependent on the property's value. A full explanation of the bond's affect on taxes can be found here.
Five months ago, Ames voters rejected a similar referendum worth $65 million to rebuild and/or renovate schools by nearly a four-to-one margin.
Board members didn't discuss the tax impact Monday. Those who spoke said they want to see better schools.
Board member David Putz voted against moving forward with the referendum because he didn't think board members had examined enough of the details.
“I have mixed feelings,” he said.
The current board with four new members didn't thoroughly review all the details including capacity and operating costs, he said. He also asked if the stated referendum meant the board would have to renovate Mitchell.
Karen Shimp, the district's chief financial officer, said the board would be obligated to rebuild and renovate all the buildings as promised. But the actual size and capacity is not part of the referendum and could be changed later.
Putz said after the meeting that he has always been concerned about the future of Mitchell. It's the only school in the city's southeast side, but it has less than 150 students within its boundary, he said.
Putz was the only board member to express concerns.
“We reached as near a perfect solution as possible. I'll be casting a yes vote,” said board member Bill Talbot.
If the number of signatures on the petition is any indication, the community might be on Talbot's side.
Kevin Stow, of the petition committee, said they found 80 friends to help them gather signatures and 2,803 people signed.
“The City of Ames told us they were ready to move forward on a five-school plan,” Stow said.
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