Counting on a funding bond for new school

By Doug McMurdo and Nathaniel Smith• The Times-Independent

The fate of a signature petition to put the funding of construction of a new Grand County middle school before voters remained unknown as The Times-Independent went to press Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 28.

Grand County Chief Deputy Clerk Jana Smith said she didn’t expect the results to be finalized until the end of the week.

School Board Chair Melissa Byrd said she’d heard that upwards of 1,400 signatures had been gathered as of the deadline, which had been extended to Monday, Nov. 26. Superintendent JT Stroder told The Times-Independent that a petition effort to require a vote on a General Obligation Bond would require about 1,070 valid signatures. “If it received enough signatures, then a Local Building Authority will not be possible,” said Stroder. “Construction after that point is hard to say. The board would have to make a decision if they wanted to pursue a general obligation bond or not,” said Stroder.

As reported in the Nov. 22 edition, a group of residents filed the petition in an effort to put the issue on the ballot. They opposed the Grand County Board of Education’s decision to use a Local Building Authority to fund construction rather than let voters decide through the more traditional General Obligation bond.

Only the General Obligation Bond funding method requires voter approval. While GOB’s generally carry a 3 percent interest rate, LBA’s carry 3.5 percent.

The school board argues the LBA method has gained acceptance over the past decade, noting 32 other Utah school districts have gone that route over that time. Board members also believe it was important to lock in the rate now rather than later, when construction costs will likely be higher.

Petitioners counter the extra one-half percent in interest amounts to more than $1 million in costs.

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