Archive for Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Voters to decide on school projects

November 6, 2007


Eudora leaders divided on dept. head ordinance

Eudora councilman Bill Whitten is fighting City Hall from within. Whitten opposes an ordinance that would allow the mayor to appoint department heads for two years, not one. Enlarge video

Eudora votes

Polls in Eudora will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.

Questions on the ballot will include Eudora USD 491's $45 million bond referendum and the city of Eudora's Charter Ordinance No. 10.

Polling places:

¢ Districts 50 (west Eudora) and 54 (central Eudora): Eudora Recreation Center, 1638 Elm St.

¢ District 52 (north Eudora): Eudora City Hall, 4 E. Seventh St.

¢ District 53 (south Eudora): Eudora Township Fire Station, 310 E. 20th St.

— Today is election day in Eudora, where voters are heading to the polls to decide the fate of a $45 million school bond issue, as well as a city ordinance that would allow the mayor to appoint department heads for two years instead of one.

If approved, the bulk of the $45 million would finance construction of an elementary school that would open in 2009. Construction of that proposed school - for first- through fifth-graders - would cost nearly $27 million. In addition, the proposed bond issue would pay for a $2.6 million attendance center for sixth-graders, plus improvements at Eudora Middle School.

The rest of the bond issue would pay for:

¢ $6.4 million worth of improvements to Eudora High School, including new classroom space and a 750-person auditorium.

¢ A $3.45 million technical education facility.

¢ A $2.9 million districtwide stadium.

¢ $378,000 worth of improvements to Eudora West Elementary School to transform it into a preschool and kindergarten center.

¢ Current debt payments, including a four-year, $648,000 computer leasing agreement with Apple Inc. By wrapping the existing debt into the bond issue, the district will be able to take advantage of state aid, which will cover 38 percent of the bond payments, Superintendent Marty Kobza said. The $45 million also includes nearly $1 million for contingency purposes.

Kobza noted the school district has grown by 65 percent since 1992.

While the major issue on today's ballot is the school bond, Eudora residents also will vote on Charter Ordinance No. 10. If approved, the ordinance would allow the mayor - with approval from the City Council - to appoint department heads for two years instead of one.

Mayor Tom Pyle supported the measure when it was approved by the Eudora City Council.

"The problem I found in interviews (with prospective employees) is it's hard to get people to commit to move here if we only give them a one-year contract," Pyle said.

Pyle said it's a matter of providing incentives in order to keep good employees.

City Councilman Bill Whitten voted against the measure and then started a successful protest petition drive that resulted in the measure landing on today's ballot.

"It's not that I have a problem with two-year contracts for department heads but just the timing of the vote," Whitten said. "If our mayor appoints someone this year and then he's not in office the next year, it could cause problems if a new mayor doesn't like who the old mayor appointed and wants to fire him after one year.

"I asked the City Council, 'Would it increase the risk of us having a successful lawsuit against us?', and the answer was yes."

Pyle said he thinks that if an employee were properly terminated for good cause, "the city's liability for that action would be no more than if the charter ordinance had never passed."

The wording on the ballot has confused some voters.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said a "yes" vote means the voter grants the mayor the new power, while a "no" vote does not grant the power.

Eudora News reporter David Oakes contributed to this story. He can be reached at (785) 542-2747.


SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 1 month ago

It's not too late to vote down the school bond (read: tax increase).

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