RAYMOND — A $14.8 million referendum to fund improvements at Raymond Elementary School would result in a property tax hike of $168 a year for the average homeowner, school officials said.
The referendum on the April 5 ballot aims to raise funds to build a new cafeteria, a new baseball diamond and an expanded parking lot at the school, 2659 76th St.
If voters approve the measure, the district would borrow up to $14.8 million for construction, which also includes new flexible classrooms and improved accessibility for people with disabilities.
The loan would be repaid over 20 years with increases in property taxes, at a rate of nearly $1 million per year.
According to school district figures, the district’s total property tax revenue would increase annually from $2,919,948 to $3,891,132, an increase of $971,184.
The property tax rate would increase from $5.05 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $6.73 per $1,000. This means the owner of a typical $100,000 home would see their annual property tax bill rise from $505 to $673, an increase of $168.
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School District Administrator Steve Harder said he was confident taxpayers would see the value in approving the April 5 measure and raising taxes to modernize the school.
“There’s a need out there,” Harder said.
Jillian Berman, a candidate for the Raymond School Board, said she supports the referendum and fears some opponents are spreading misinformation that the measure represents a “blank cheque” for out-of-control spending.
Berman said school administrators did a good job of listing facility improvements that would be funded. If voters understood the details, she said, they would know that the resulting tax increases are justified.
“There would be a lot more on board to spend money on,” she said.
Voters will decide the April 5 referendum at the same time they decide a contested school board election.
The referendum stems from a similar measure approved eight years ago to borrow $4.6 million for earlier improvements to the school, including a new gymnasium.
Officials said the money is running out before all the work can be done, so another referendum is needed.
Unrelated to the ongoing referendum, the school district recently repaid the last loan of 2015, with a $1,045,000 payment that took the previous bond issue off the books.
This debt repayment will reduce the district’s annual property tax collections from the current level of $4,095,755 to $2,919,948. The property tax rate will drop from its current level of $7.43 per $1,000 to $5.05.
If voters approve the plan to replace old debt with new debt, property taxes will go up.
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