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Levies & Bonds Special Edition

Local Government Committee (LGC) Report Report DATE: 5-9-2023

LGC Reports are a compilation of notes taken at LG meetings, and information shared with the committee from organizations and community members.

Reports do not reflect the official positions of the Bonneville County Republican Party. We encourage the reader to research information and consider all sides of any issue. The intent of the LGC is to inform citizens of Bonneville County and encourage them to become involved in all levels of their community and local government.

The May 16 vote includes some school bonds and levies.

Pertinent information that you should know before voting.

From representative Scott Herndon.

Do we really need to fund the Schools with our tax money?

Here is the Education public spending in Idaho approved in this last legislative session. Record amounts:

These budgets begin July 1, 2023:

H222 - $ 1,000,000 Supplemental University of Idaho for Moscow murders

H336 - $ 37,188,400 Agricultural Research and Extension Service

H343 - $ 728,900 Charter School Commission

H353 - $ 45,800,500 for State Department of Education

H363 - $ 103,296,800 for Division of Career Technical Education,

includes new $15 million for additional program support and 10.5 new FTE

H364 - $ 50,000,000 Trailer bill to H267 Division of Career Technical Education new funding for CTE starting in middle school and grades 7-12

S1043 - $ 50,000,000 New charter school revolving loan fund

S1136 - $ 6,222,800 STEM Action Center

S1160 - $ 61,710,500 Community Colleges

S1167 - $ 80,000,000 Idaho Launch grant program

S1176 - $ 678,550,500 Colleges and Universities

S1177 - $ 34,885,600 State dept of Education Special Programs

S1197 - $ 72,922,000 Higher Ed capital projects - Permanent Building Fund

S1202 - $ 96,376,200 - State Board of Education includes new $30 million for Empowering Parents grant program, $47.2 million Covid Relief funding (federal)

S1204 - $ 123,916,000 - Public Schools division of administrators (superintendents, principals, etc.)

S1205 - $ 1,338,906,000 Public Schools Teachers. New $2.9 million dyslexia training. New $6,359 per teacher salary increase total of $144,960,600

S1206 - $ 1,123,677,600 Public Schools Operations Division includes new $97.4 million to increase Classified staff salaries from average $24k to $38k.

New $49 million for discretionary spending to cover increased transportation costs and inflation and whatever.

New $27.9 million for health insurance to increase medical insurance for staff to state program. New $10 million for technology funding.

S1207 - $ 698,949,800 Public Schools Children's Programs. Includes $298 million for learning loss ArPA and CRRSA Covid relief funding.

$19.7 million Digital Learning Academy.

S1208 - $ 67,885,600 Public Schools facilities. Includes Lottery and Bond Levy Equalization.

S1209 - $ 14,237,600 Public Schools Central Services Division

S1210 - $ 15,629,400 Deaf and Blind

S1215 - $ 10,000,000 additional Advanced Opportunities Scholarships

In one of these bills is $20 million for hard security.

That is a Grand Total of $ 4,711,884,200.

You read that right - $4.7 BILLION.

$3.7 ish billion of which is K-12.

A new tax will be on the ballot May 16th. A taxpayer submitted this opinion for your consideration: Even though School District 91’s overall attendance seems to be steady, growth on the south side has overcrowded Sunnyside Elementary and there is a need for more elementary classroom space on the southside of town.

In November the school board attempted to invoke a quarter billion dollar new property tax on local residents, a move that was soundly defeated. Many felt the district had combined a few needs with outrageous and over the top requests.

Now in May the district is trying a new approach. Instead of going the traditional bonding route to build a new building, they are trying a newer approach that is like a “rent to own.” Basically a builder or investor will build the school and own it. The district will ask the taxpayers for millions of new tax dollars each year. This will make yearly payments to the builder’s owner. At the end of the term the owner will transfer the school building ownership to the district. This approach requires only 55% of the voters to approve the new tax, as opposed to the 66% required for a traditional school bond. It is still a huge tax hike for a single school, at about $47 per year in new taxes for each $100K of taxable value you own. A home with a $400,000 taxable value will pay an new tax of $188 each year. Kind of tough for some families with inflation coming on so strong.

Patrons have brought up several concerns:

1. Some feel uncomfortable doing this financial arrangement. Who is ultimately liable for the building during the “rent to own” period- the district or the owner?

2. The new tax seems very high for a single elementary school.

3. Is the district continuing to choose it’s architect and construction manager without getting bids? If they do get bids for these 2 main pieces of work will they post them before the election?

4. Over the last few years the district seems to have just continually handed one single firm most of their construction management work without getting competitive bids, is the district going to get bids from other firms to be their construction manager?

5. Has the district polled taxpayers (not parents of their students) to see if the community can afford this new tax?

6. Has all other options to load balance the enrollment between the schools losing attendance and those gaining attendance been examined?

The conclusion is a tough one and each voter needs to make their own. Is a new elementary school needed south of town? Perhaps. Is the district going about it in a financially sound way, using bids for everything, and actually owning the building from the start? Some feel no. Is this affordable for you? Some will answer that at the voting booth May 16.

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