Date set for another bond issue

The Minot Public School Board has set April 8 as the date for a $39.5 million school bond issue. The bond issue will be the second held within four months. Voters defeated a $125 million bond issue in December.

If passed, the scaled back bond issue would pay for construction of a new elementary school on land the district already owns in southeast Minot, the construction of additions at Perkett Elementary and Edison Elementary, and safety and security measures at schools in the district, including the addition of buzzer systems, security vestibules, cameras and other remodeling. The bond issue, which must receive 60 percent or greater approval to pass, would mean taxes would go up $123.83 per year for the owner of a $200,000 home in the district. The annual tax increase would be $61.92 on a home valued at $100,000 and $185.75 per year on a $300,000 home.

Voting will be held in a centralized location in the Minot Municipal Auditorium on April 8, with early voting taking place at the Ward County Courthouse. Absentee ballots will also be available.

The district is eligible for a $20 million low-interest construction loan from the state if voters approve the bond issue before May. The interest rate for the school construction loan would be set at 1.72 percent. The remainder of the project would require taking out $19.5 million in general obligation bonds at an interest rate of approximately 3.5 percent. Business manager Scott Moum said the district would also utilize about $227,000 from a safety grant that is available and the district would take out approximately $590,000 from the general reserve fund to pay for all projects being considered for “Phase One.” The district has about $14.5 million in reserves right now but does not have a building fund

Board members said they have been told the bond issue failed in December because many voters felt $125 million was too much to ask for. But the board also said the needs of the district are not going away. There are currently 24 portable classrooms in use at schools around the district. Growth is projected to continue. The $125 million bond issue defeated in December would also have funded construction of a new high school and the renovation of Central Campus into a fourth middle school for the district.

“We heard the voters,” said board member Steven Velk. “We’re coming back with what I think is a bare bones, absolutely necessary budget.” Velk said it would be almost irresponsible to pass up a chance at getting a school construction loan with an interest rate under 2 percent. Moum said the school construction loan would save taxpayers approximately $4.2 million over the course of the 20-year bond.