L&T staff report
The City of Liberal Commissioners will join the USD No. 480 board members for a rare Sunday meeting at 3 p.m. today at McDermott Elementary to approve the interlocal agreement for a half-cent sales tax that will be a part of Tuesday’s election.
The interlocal agreement paves the way for the community to utilize a half cent to help fund the improvements for schools which will help reduce the burden for property tax use.
The city commissioners already approved the use of the half-cent sales tax and to alow the question to be on Tuesday’s ballot, but the interlocal agreement was required before the funds could be used by the school district.
By law, school districts cannot propose the use of sales tax to make school improvements. But cities and counties can opt to do so with an interlocal agreement in place.
The school district has spent almost a full year engaging the community in discussions about how to solve the overcrowding issues facing the classrooms.
A final plan was presented to the school board in January that included the constructions of three new K-5 schools as well as two new middle schools and repurposing the old facilities into other uses for the district, including relocating Central Office and th Education Service Center as well as pre-kindergarten classes currently taking place in portable buildings as well as relocating the alternative school from a metal building by the maintenance department to one of the vacated buildings.
The plan totaled $127.8 million, but state funding will pay for $69 million, and the sales tax will fund another $28 million, leaving $30.8 million, or 24 percent of the total cost, to be funded by property tax.
The property tax number dropped from $36.8 million earlier this week when state funding increased from 49 percent of the project to 54 percent.
Advance voting has taken place for more than a week, and already more than 700 have cast ballots on the measure.
For the bond to pass, two questions have to be approved. One allows for the bond and the state matching fund and the other to allow sales tax to help fund the project.
Advance voting will continue Monday until noon, and the special election will take place Tuesday at the Seward County Activity Center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free coffee and cookies will be provided to those with an “I Voted” sticker.