School bond election tomorrow

New Albany Elementary School NAES

New Albany – Voters in the New Albany school district’s school bond election will decide tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 25,  whether to increase the district’s debt by up to $8.5-million. Polls will open at the Union County Courthouse at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. for the special election.

Early this year the New Albany school board hired the Tennessee-based architectural and engineering firm, A2H, to perform an assessment of the condition of the buildings of the elementary school, the middle school and the high school. A2H reported to the school board that the district’s buildings need several million dollars worth of maintenance and repair work, some of it critical and in need of prompt attention. Some school board members were reportedly a little staggered by the amount of money A2H said needs to be spent on maintenance. Of particular concern was $1.7-million in maintenance work A2H said is needed at the “new” elementary school, which was built just 16 years ago.

However, after studying A2H’s detailed recommendations, the board decided to act affirmatively on the advice and to do the work as soon as possible. The school board voted at its August 6, 2018, to ask for a bond issue of up to $8.5-million to pay for the work. A2H would supervise the construction work and would be paid fees ranging from 4.5% to 7% of the cost of the work, depending on the kind of work being performed. The fees would be in addition to the actual invoiced cost of the work.

School Superintendent Lance Evans asked to be placed on the agenda of the New Albany Board of Aldermen at its regular meeting the next day, Tuesday, August 7. Evans told the aldermen of the school board’s decision to ask voters to approve the bond issue, and said a special election had been set for September 25. Voters must approve of the school bond issue by at least a 60 percent majority for it to be authorized.

Evans told the New Albany aldermen that issuing the $8.5-million in bonds — increasing the school district’s debt by that amount — would not increase property taxes in the school district. Evans said that $9.85-million in bonds issued  for school construction work in 2001 would be paid off next year. An increase of 11 mills in the tax levy was passed in 2001 to service the debt on that $9.85-million. Evans said that, since the 2001 bonds would be paid off next year, the same 11-mill levy would be applied to service the debt on the new bonds. Evans told the aldermen that taking on the new $8.5-million in debt “absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt will not require a tax increase.”

However, Evans acknowledged that the district’s property owners could expect an 11-mill decrease in the property tax rate after the 2001 bonds are paid off, if they do not approve the new $8.5-million in bonded indebtedness.

All registered voters in the City of New Albany are eligible to vote in tomorrow’s school bond election, as are voters living in that part of the New Albany school district which lies outside the city limits.

Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow, Sept. 25. All voting on the bond issue will be at the Union County Courthouse.

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