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Archive for Friday, May 21, 1999

DESOTO SCHOOL DISTRICT MAILS OUT BALLOTS THAT WILL DECIDE BOND ISSUE

May 21, 1999

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Voters in the DeSoto school district for the third time since 1996 will decide on a school bond issue. The mailing deadline for ballots is noon, June 8.

Registered voters in the DeSoto school district should be receiving mail ballots for voting on a proposed $42.5 million bond issue to finance construction of two new schools and additions to others.

Ballots were mailed Tuesday to about 9,500 residents, said Connie Schmidt, election commissioner for Johnson County.

The ballots must be returned to the Johnson County election office by noon, June 8.

The school board is asking voters to approve the bond issue to fund a new elementary school in the central part of the district and a new elementary school north of Johnson Drive in the eastern portion of the district.

The bond issue also would be used for a new administration center in DeSoto, tennis courts and athletic fields. It also calls for additions to Monticello Trails and Lexington middle schools.

The district in its May 1999 newsletter claimed taxes actually would rise slightly in the short-term and go down over the next three years even if the bond issue is passed because of a growing tax base in the district.

Sharon Zoellner, assistant superintendent of finance for the district, said the district's mill levy is expected to increase by only 1 mill if the bond issue passes.

"Because our assessed valuation is growing, fewer mills are necessary to cover the costs," she said.

A mill equal $1 in property taxation for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

The district's current levy is 69.52 mills.

The district, which is paying for the election, will spend an estimated $9,500 to $10,000 on the measure, Schmidt said. The costs include return postage on the ballots.

"The mail ballot was chosen to hopefully get a better turnout," Zoellner said.

Schmidt said that mail balloting is one of the easiest ways for voters to participate.

"My perspective is that it's the most convenient way, from a voter's perspective, to take part," she said.

The district in 1989 held another vote by mail ballot. The turnout then was 81.4 percent, Schmidt said.

Voters in the district in 1996 rejected a $57.5 million bond issue for new schools. The district went back to the drawing board after that and came up with a $37.6 million bond issue in spring 1997, which voters approved by a narrow 50.28 percent to 49.72 percent margin.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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