Dist. 116 homeowners will pay more if $29 million OK'd
Round Lake Area Unit District 116 officials say they want to clarify any potential misconceptions about next week's ballot measure seeking voter approval to borrow $29 million for high school renovation and expansion.
Officials say a debt restructuring would keep the current tax rate steady over time if the measure is approved at the ballot box Tuesday, March 18. The District 116 ballot wording does not ask the voters to approve a property tax hike, and specifies the work that would be done at Round Lake High School.
However, District 116's assistant superintendent of business, Bill Johnston, said the lack of a tax-hike request on the ballot doesn't mean homeowners would not pay more toward the bond-and-interest fund, over the life of the loan, if the measure passes.
Johnston said added cost to taxpayers would come because existing debt is scheduled to end in 2025, but repayments for the new borrowing would last through 2028.
"For a $100,000 home, the total additional (bond and interest) tax that a homeowner will pay over the life of the bonds is $3,048, which averages to $218 a year for the duration of the debt repayment," Johnston told the Daily Herald in an email. "The district has never said the repayment of $29 million of bonds will not raise taxes, but the debt structure does not increase the annual amount of taxes paid on the (bond-and-interest fund) over the current annual tax, nor does it increase the (bond-and-interest) tax rate."
If voter approval is gained next week, Round Lake High's expansion and building upgrades would bring the maximum capacity to 2,288 students and allow removal of the portable classrooms, according to District 116. Part of the high school would be demolished to accommodate the new construction.
Work would start in July and go until December 2015, officials said. There would be construction of 30 new classrooms, including four laboratories for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In addition, plans call for a new gymnasium to meet state physical education requirements and new student common areas. Remodeling would occur in portions of the high school, with a new design to allow for quicker student circulation.
Johnston said he's heard there may be some community concern that $3.2 million of the $29 million borrowed would be set aside for a construction contingency fund. He said that amount meets the industry standard and is not considered too high.
Other high school work previously identified as necessary would occur if the $3.2 million isn't used for unexpected costs, he said.