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Light Turnout at Bond Vote Meeting
Monday, 21 September 2009

September 21--  Less than 50 people showed up at Monday night's called meeting of the Montgomery County School Board to discuss building a new $15-$16 million middle and high school in Mount Vernon.


Of the 15 people who asked questions, some wanted basic information on the project, some were in favor and some were opposed.

Voters will have the opportunity in a November 3rd referendum to decide if they want to extend a one percent education sales tax.  It would  help pay for up to a nearly $11 million dollar bond issue to finance the local share of the project over the next 20 years.  The school board is asking the state for $5.2 million dollars for the balance of the construction costs.

The lone dissenter on the school board is Deloris James of Alston who agrees a new school is needed but wants to wait another year or two to see how the economy recovers.

Others says now is the best time to build because more contractors bidding on work is driving construction costs down and because interest rates on bonds are low.  A delay could add as much as $5 million which taxpayers would have to pay, according to school officials.

Even with the sales tax, the school board may have to levy up to half a mil of additional property tax to repay the bonds.  They say that's only $20 a year on a property owner with a $100,000 house.  However, some folks are afraid if the board's sales tax revenue projections are too high, even higher property taxes may be needed in the outyears.

School board chairman Randall Morris says, "I don't want to try to convince you to vote either for or against this proposal.  I ask you to get the information you need to make an educated decision, and ask yourself what you think is the best thing for the kids of this county."

One of those attending, James Hance, has two children in the school system and says the vote will impact Montgomery County's economic development.  "The better educated your children are, the better their chance for a job.  And the better educated workforce you have, the better chance you have to draw in new companies," he said. 



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