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posted: 3/8/2018 12:20 PM

Endorsement: Yes on bonds for Gavin Dist. 37 life safety improvements

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

It's been 14 years since Gavin Elementary District 37 officials last asked voters to approve borrowing to fund building improvements. In November 2004, voters gave permission for $1 million in life-safety improvements at Gavin South. On the March 20 ballot, officials are again asking for funding for building needs. This ballot issue asks to establish a "debt service extension base" of $500,000 for "all subsequent levy years" including 2018. Such a vehicle, used by some other school districts in Lake County, would enable District 37 to borrow money without going to referendum but limits the principal and interest levied against taxpayers. Bond sales and repayment would be capped at $500,000 annually for 20 years. Approval would mean it could borrow $5.96 million in 2018 for repairs at Gavin Central Elementary and Gavin South Middle School, including work on roofs and parking lots, heating and air conditioning systems. Bonds to build Central are being paid off, meaning there would be no change in the debt service tax rate. If voters reject this measure, the owner of a house valued at $100,000 will see a property tax decrease of about $85 per year. Opponents say they're not against improvements, but don't like the way the district is doing it. They say the measure is a "revolving line of credit" and prefer set terms. District officials say this approach funds repairs without having to return to voters multiple times. When the district wants to borrow more, safeguards are in place for the public to weigh in. This measure provides flexibility to make necessary repairs. We recommend a "yes" vote with the caveat the district stress transparency, possibly holding an annual meeting to update residents.

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