Mount Pulaski residents hear school construction needs and finance plans

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[September 17, 2018]  MOUNT PULASKI - "We need your support," emphasized Mount Pulaski school board member Jeff Beccue to concerned citizens who showed up on Thursday night to listen to issues concerning the building of a new high school. The current building that houses the "old gym," the school office, a library and classrooms was built in 1912 and it is in need of replacement.

Mount Pulaski added new classrooms and a new cafeteria built north of the school's main gymnasium approximately ten years ago and that would remain intact. Although the drawings on display Thursday night showed the gym entrance would get a modern facelift to better blend in with the new construction.

Voters will get a chance to vote YES or NO on the March 20th ballot. Thursday night those in attendance were given the opportunity to ask questions of the board members, as well as the construction management team and the architect. Tours of the building were also offered for anyone who was interested.

Beccue summed up the evening this way, "Basically tonight was an informational meeting to try and get out to the public about the potential tax impact to the taxpayers of our district. Trying to provide as much information as we can, as much transparency as we can, to say at a maximum impact this is what it's going to mean to the taxpayer.

"If they walk in there that day to vote yes they have to understand this is what the potential maximum impact is to them as a taxpayer. And for us we see that as a ninety-cent increase in their tax rate. We look at $4.75 as our current tax rate. You are going to go to $5.65 as your tax rate on your tax bill. So you as a taxpayer, you can go home and look at your property tax bill and say this $4.75 is now $5.65. What does that do to my taxes and what does that mean to me? That's a maximum impact.

We talked tonight about some opportunities to reduce that, by say thirteen cents with the wind farm donation or the abatement of taxes with general fund or sales tax money. So you take that thirteen cents down and now you're at seventy-nine cents. There's another step-down potential as you walk in there and say I believe the board's going to do that. Those are the two kind of top-end here is what we think the max is going to be for this project.

"Also as you walk in there as a taxpayer and if you truly believe that the wind farm is moving forward, and all indications are that they are, we wanted to show what that impact was of that tax revenue coming in off that wind farm.

"So in addition to the $140,000 donation that we would get when the wind farm is up and operational, based on the size of the wind farm, it is anywhere from $950,000 a year to $1.2 million dollars a year additional tax revenue that we would receive from the wind farm, which we would then turn around and abate the taxes and it would basically be a no increase from a taxing body perspective. That's in our head and that's what we're looking at. But we have to understand that the maximum impact is what we need to be voting on."

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Residents will vote March 20th. Following the outcome of the March vote, the projected timeline to proceed would look like this:

Finalize design June - October 2018

Bid submittal December 2018

Construction begins June 2019 (tearing down the old part of the school first)

Building projects complete for Fall of 2020.

Core Construction of Morton has been hired as the construction management firm to oversee operations.

[Teena Lowery]

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