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Linn-Mar CFO provides GO bond funding information
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · May 18th, 2017

At Linn-Mar's most recent Board of Education meeting, held on May 8, 2017, Chief Financial Officer JT Anderson reviewed information about General Obligation bond funding which has been used in the past to provide money for major projects in the district. He also discussed wording for a forthcoming bond vote.

First, Anderson provided some "quick facts" about GO bonds in general. They constitute one method a school district can use to borrow money for construction projects. They are issued and backed by property tax dollars, the debt can run for up to 20 years, and the bond vote to get such funding has to pass by a "super majority," or at least 60 percent.

Borrowing restrictions

According to law, the amount of debt of any school district cannot exceed five percent of the actual value of the taxable property within the district, based on the last state and county tax lists.

The voters may approve a bond debt for a period of up to 20 years, and they may approve a rate of levy up to $2.70 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. However, they can approve to exceed that levy up to a total of $4.05, and Linn-Mar voters have already okayed the $4.05 maximum.

L-M GO bond history

Linn-Mar has had five general obligation bond votes since late 1991. In December 1991 the district sought $5.9 million through this method to build additions onto Bowman Woods, Indian Creek, Wilkins, and Novak as well as provide for media center expansions, PE and multipurpose areas, and conference areas. This vote failed with 56 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed (did not have "super majority" of 60 percent).

A vote in March 1993 passed with 75 percent in favor. Its purpose was to provide $8.5 million for building a new 5-6 intermediate school, media center expansions, adding 14 classrooms at the junior/senior high school, and additions to Bowman Woods, Indian Creek, Wilkins and Novak.

A general obligation bond issue was pursued in February 1997 to raise $25 million to build Westfield, add onto Wilkins and Indian Creek, expand to grades 6-8 at the intermediate level, and remodel the junior/senior high. It passed by a vote of 62 percent in favor.

Next came a $12 million vote in March 2001 which resulted in funding for Oak Ridge and the Bowman Woods gym. It carried by a vote of 70 percent in favor.

Most recently was a vote in January 2006 to acquire $27.5 to be used for two elementary schools, high school remodeling, remodeling at the old Novak building, and the conversion of Oak Ridge to a middle school. This bond vote passed with 75 percent in favor (September 12).

2017 proposed GO bond vote

The Board of Education is now considering a vote to be held on September 12 this fall. The information was reviewed at the recent May 8 meeting. It is expected that on May 22, the board will approve the bond issue to be placed on a ballot for a fall vote.

Information will be shared in a number of ways throughout the summer and fall and at a number of activities. These include a press release, Facebook updates, handouts, mailings, and videos with detailed descriptions and graphics.

Other ways information will be available are via Facilities Committee members. It also will be shared with business leaders (MEDCO, Chamber, Marion Live, etc.), the L-M Foundation, civic leaders (mayor and council) community organizations (such as Rotary, Legion, Optimists), and through teachers and staff.

The board has looked into the wording of the proposed general obligation bond petition which is expected to be on the ballot. Here is that proposed wording:

"Shall the Board of Directors of the Linn-Mar Community School District in the County of Linn, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $80,000,000 to provide funds to construct, build, furnish and equip two 5th-6th grade intermediate buildings and a new elementary building, and to improve those sites; to remodel, renovate, improve, furnish, and equip Bowman Woods, Indian Creek, and Wilkins Elementary buildings; and to remodel, renovate, improve, furnish and equip and to construct, build and furnish an addition to Excelsior Middle School building, and to improve the site."

Please keep in mind that the above is only a proposed version, but it does incorporate the major concepts which the Facilities Committee and the board have been considering.

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