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New Madrid County R1: Two issues proposed to voters

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

NEW MADRID - In an effort to maintain and man schools in four locations, the New Madrid County R-1 School Board will place two issues before voters at the Nov. 7 general election.

One will seek funds for extensive renovation to the elementary schools at Lilbourn, Matthews and New Madrid as well as the New Madrid County Central High School. The other ballot issue will be to provide funding for staff and educational needs.

The Board of Education decided to propose the ballot issues as a result of the decision by voters at the Nov. 5, 2002, election not to consolidate the district's elementary schools at one location, according to Bill Nance, superintendent of schools.

According to Nance, the Board is proposing borrowing $8,993,000 to complete "extensive remodeling, renovation and repairs" at the four buildings. Needed repairs (see related story) are expected to cost $9 million, he said.

If voters approve the bond issue it would be repaid with the current 24-cent debt fund levy and would not require a tax increase, Nance said.

Included in the funding to be used, the superintendent said, will be $993,000 of Qualified Zone Academy bonds at zero interest. "By seeking and receiving approval from the state of Missouri for the $993,000 of zero interest QZAB funding, the district achieves an interest savings of about $619,000 compared to what it would pay at an assumed interest rate of 4.5 percent over a twenty-year period," Nance said.

For the second issue, an 80 cent increase in the operating tax levy ceiling will be required. School officials said the amount would be phased in over an eight-year-period at a rate of 10 cents per year in order "to fund the maintenance at the expanded facilities, hiring and retaining quality staff and to meet the education needs of the district."

The taxpayer on a residential value of $100,000 would pay approximately $19 more annually and the taxpayer on commercial property, of the same value, would pay approximately $32 more annually if the voters approve the new tax levy, school officials stated.

"While the bond can be repaid without any increase in the 24-cent debt service levy for the fiscal year 2006-2007, it will be more expensive to operate the expanded local elementary schools," said Nance. "By seeking the 80 cent increase to be phased in over eight years at 10 cents per year, the district expects that it can continue to provide a quality education and have facilities that are adequate and provide for a safe environment for many years."

Informational meetings will be scheduled in October to enable school officials to meet with the public to talk about the issues, Nance said.