Richland Schools to ask voters for $98 million bond in February

RICHLAND -- The Richland School Board Tuesday night approved a resolution which will place a $98 million bond issue before Richland School District voters on February 12, 2013.
The bond issue addresses eight specific facility improvement projects:

Replace Lewis & Clark Elementary School - $21 million
Replace Marcus Whitman Elementary School - $21 million
Replace Sacajawea Elementary School - $21 million
Build a New Elementary School in south Richland - $21 million
Build a New Middle School in the south/west area - $33 million
Repurpose Jefferson Elementary and use it for HomeLink - $5 million
Replace the HVAC system at Chief Joseph Middle School - $6 million
Make safety improvements at Fran Rish Stadium - $2 million

The estimated total project cost is $130 million. The District expects to receive $32 million in state assistance funds which means that $98 million must come from local taxpayers.

Lewis & Clark, Marcus, and Sacajawea were built in 1971. Continued population growth in the south and west areas of the District requires more schools to be built there.

Five elementary schools are no longer needed in the central core of Richland; that is why Jefferson can be repurposed and used for the growing HomeLink program.

The current Chief Joseph HVAC system is inefficient and cannot be repaired.

"We've studied these projects and analyzed potential costs for months and received excellent input from the community," stated Rick Jansons, President of the Richland School Board. "We've done some cutting in order to minimize the impact to local taxpayers. Our financing plan keeps the tax rate as low as possible."

The Richland School District's current bond tax rate is $1.21 per $1000 of assessed valuation. If voters approve the bond issue, the estimated tax rate would increase 34 cents to $1.55 in 2014.

Yearly property taxes would increase $68 on a $200,000 home. The rate would decrease to $1.19 in 2023.

This bond debt would be retired in 15 years in the year 2029.