Archive for Monday, July 7, 2008

De Soto bond resolution rings up at a higher price

July 7, 2008

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education Monday finalized a bond resolution that the district discussed and planned for months, but at a cost of $2.5 million more than expected.

Board members approved 6-1 a bond resolution not to exceed $75 million that includes expanding Mill Valley and De Soto high schools to 1,400 and 1,000 students, respectively. It also includes building another elementary school on land the district owns at 55th Street and Belmont Drive in Shawnee.

Last month, the board approved moving forward with a bond resolution not to exceed $72.5 million. Superintendent Sharon Zoellner also said she would work with district employees to bring that cost estimate down in time for the board to finalize the resolution at Monday's meeting.

But substantial increases in steel and oil prices led facilities director Denis Johnson to propose the $75 million price tag to the board allowing for a 16 percent inflation rate instead a 12 percent inflation rate.

"The market is just really unstable right now," he said.

When voters last approved a bond resolution in 2002, an elementary school at 55th Street and Belmont Drive was included, but was later cut from bond projects when the district couldn't afford it to rising steel prices.

Johnson said using the 16 percent inflation rate would offer a better guarantee that the district would be able to afford all three bond projects, should voters approve them.

Board member Jim Thomas turned to newly elected board vice president Don Clark and asked him if he would have in hindsight increased the amount of the bond resolution and therefore raise the mill levy for taxpayers or if he would have nixed the elementary school from the project list.

"I would have raised the mill levy," Clark said.

Newly elected board president Larry Meyer said he was hesitant to approve a bond resolution with a higher price in a poor economy, but emphasized that if the price came in lower, the board wouldn't have to spend all of the $75 million authorized.

"Can we put 'not to exceed' in bold?" he asked. The bond resolution will go before voters at the Nov. 4 general election.

For more information on the De Soto bond resolution, read The Dispatch Wednesday or The Explorer Thursday.

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