Archive for Thursday, January 31, 2008

Groups emptied war chests in bond fight

January 31, 2008

Committee spending reports for the September 2007 bond referendum have been reported to the Johnson County Election Office and show that personal funds and balances from a previous campaign funded the efforts against and in support of the De Soto School District's $70.5 million bond referendum that voters rejected.

The one-man committee against the bond referendum was school board member Bill Fletcher. Fletcher said he spent $350 of his own money on campaign signs against the bond referendum.

The Vote "Yes" Committee, formerly called the Citizens Committed to Children and Community, had a remaining balance of more than $2,000 from its November 2006 campaign, which voters also rejected. The committee used its funds to purchase signs and newspaper advertising. One large contributor to the Vote "Yes" Committee in 2006 was J.E. Dunn Construction Company, which donated $3,000. Hollis & Miller Architects, Henderson Engineers and Shafer, Kline & Warren Inc. also contributed large amounts of about $1,000 each.

All companies have been hired by the De Soto USD 232 for past projects, however they were not guaranteed work on projects in the last two failed bond referendums.

Fletcher, who himself has a mowing contract with the district, said he thought it was a smart business move for those companies to support a bond referendum, that if approved, would have left the school board searching for companies willing to do the work.

"I think it's fine if those companies want to donate money to a Vote "Yes" Committee, but as a board member I owe it to the taxpayers and go out and get bids for it and save them money," he said.

District communications director Alvie Cater said the district was required to get bids for construction projects. However, he said the state does not require the district to get bids for professional services like architects or a construction manager. It is up to the school board to submit a request for proposals at any time if it is interested in going with another company or wanted to look at other options.

Chris Akin, member of the Vote "Yes" Committee, said J.E. Dunn offered to contribute to the 2006 campaign in support of the bond referendum.

"They offered to help because they want to support the kids and the schools to be built," Akin said.

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