Photo by Sue WatsonSuperintendent Lela Hale (left) and Penne Robinson, business manager, go over information related to the bond issue.
School bond vote May 7
Tuesday, May 7, is set for a vote on a proposed $8.985 million school bond issue by the Marshall County School District.
Voters who reside in the county school district are eligible to vote on the proposed 20-year general obligation bond, said superintendent of education Lela Hale.
All polling precincts will be open for voters who reside in the county school district and who also pay district taxes.
The bond is merely an extension of a general obligation bond taken out by former school district superintendent Donnal Ash in 1999. That bond for $8 million to build a new Byhalia High School was retired in February 2019, Hale said.
So the millage that taxpayers were paying to retire the old bond will be used to pay off this new issue, if voters approve it.
In short, the effort is not to increase school district ad valorem millage for the Marshall County School District budget.
“This bond would be issued as more of a renewal of the previous bond that paid for Byhalia High School construction,” Hale said.
She said the bond will be used to make structural repairs on most all campuses, including repairs and renovations to roofs and bathrooms on all campuses. Architects have estimated it would take about $26 million to complete all the repairs and renovations and to provide additional classrooms in the district.
This bond would begin that process bite-by-bite.
The ballot submitted to the qualified electors of the county school district will contain the following language for the following proposition:
“Shall the Marshall County School District issue its general obligation bond or bonds in the maximum principal amount of $8,985,000 to raise money for the purpose of paying the costs, including the cost of borrowing, of purchasing, of erecting, repairing, equipping, remodeling and enlarging school buildings and related facilities, purchasing land therefor, establishing and equipping school athletic fields and necessary facilities connected therewith, and providing necessary water, light, heating, air conditioning and sewerage facilities for such school buildings and related facilities?”
There are two possible choices – to vote for the bond issue, or to vote against the bond issue.
Hale said six scenarios were prepared for this referendum. Scenarios 1-4 would not increase school taxes, she said. Scenario 3 was chosen for this referendum.
She said Scenario 3 was based upon average annual growth estimates over the past eight years.
Several bonds have been issued in recent years under the Ash and Don Randolph administrations:
• in 1998 a General Obligation bond for $8 million was issued under the Ash administration to build a new high school at Byhalia. That bond was retired in February, 2019, according to Penne Robinson, business manager for the school district. That bonding authority would be used for this $8.985 million issue, should the voters approve the bond issue.
• in 1997 under the Ash administration, the district took out a $5.545 million Mississippi Adequate Education Bond to do repairs and renovations on school buildings in the district. The bond was retired a year early in 2017.
• Under the Don Randolph administration a $3 million Series QSCB 2009 issue was issued to address adding more classrooms. That bond will be retired in 2025.
James Young Jr., with Muni-Group based in Jackson, explained that the bond issue of a maximum of $8.985 million was based upon several assumptions, including an average annual growth in the tax base of at least 1.0 percent and an interest rate on the bonds of 4.35 percent or less. Using that approach, Young said the district does not anticipate that the bond payments will increase the mills currently levied for school bond debt service.
In fact, he said, the average increase in the district’s tax base has been significantly more than 1 percent over the last eight years, and the current market interest rate is less than 4.35 percent.
“The district will continue reviewing the assumed growth in the assessed value and the market interest rate and will reduce the amount of bonds actually issued, if deemed necessary,” Young said.
Hale said this bond is sorely “needed for the schools in our county for the safety of our children and to provide an innovative environment for the future in Marshall County schools.”
Community meetings are set across for county school district personnel to present details on the bond proposal. The scheduled community meetings are:
• H.W. Byers School, April 2, 6 p.m.
• Byhalia High School-April 8, 6 p.m.
• Galena School, April 11, 6 p.m.
• Potts Camp School, April 15, 6 p.m.