Vote to be held on Mott/Regent bond referendum

The Mott/Regent school board passed a motion March 11 to conduct a special election for a debt referendum bond in the amount of $14.5 million to build a new school.

Posted April 11, 2014

By COLE BENZ | Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

MOTT – The Mott/Regent school board passed a motion March 11 to conduct a special election for a debt referendum bond in the amount of $14.5 million to build a new school.

Discussions first began in August 2012 with talks of restorations and upgrades to the current building.

All of the desired changes eventually began to add up and it looked like building a new school would be the better option.

“We identified quite a few security issues, we wanted to make improvements to this building and what we were finding out is that the electrical system of this building is maxed out already,” Mott/Regent Superintendent Myron Schweitzer said. “So for us to add the cameras and electronic doors, the new intercom system and all that, we just didn’t have the power to do it.”

Voters will head to the booths May 20 and vote on two items – to approve the school board to assess the bond in the amount of $14.5 million and to raise the debt limit of the district from 5 percent – allowed by state law – up to 10 percent. The actual language of the vote, according to Schweitzer, is important because it’s indicating that it is up to 10 percent and can’t go any higher.

To repay the bonded amount, the burden falls on property owners. The property in the district area would be assessed a certain amount for the next 20 years on their yearly taxes. Owners of the property in the district area would be subject to the increased amounts, regardless if they have a residence in the area. Given the amount being requested is at $14.5 million, according to Schweitzer, the amount that would be assessed would be 77 mills. With a mill being calculated at one-tenth of a cent, the assessed amount would be $77 for every $1,000 in value the property holds.

By having the vote on May 20, the project can begin by the spring of 2015 if the vote passes. The proper processes will have to follow, including bidding it out, hiring an architect and project manager along with gathering the materials.

“When they bid this out, they would have basically all winter to get their supplies and materials and contractors all lined up so when spring of 2015 hits, they’re all ready to go and it’s not going to be a rush job to get things figured out,” Schweitzer said.

The site for the new school would be on a piece of land located near the fairgrounds in Mott.

The section was donated by the city and saved the project about $300,000.

The bonds would be open for sale this August and anyone can purchase them, though Schweitzer said outside investors usually purchase the majority of these types of bonds.

It would take 60 percent voting in favor to pass the referendum.

Voters have to be a legal resident of the Mott/Regent district, but do not have to own property. People cannot vote if they are in open enrollment to the district.

As far as the fate of the current school if a new one was built, a decision has not been made, but they have formed a committee to address that issue.

“What the public doesn’t want to happen is for the building to sit empty and fall apart,” Schweitzer said.

Since March 25, the school board has been holding public forums at the Mott/Regent High School gymnasium at 7 p.m. every Tuesday and will continue those meetings. According to Schweitzer, they have been gaining steam and he is encouraging anyone to come.

“We just hope that anybody who shows up asks any questions they want whether they’re for it or against it, doesn’t make any difference,” he said.

Patrons will have two places to cast their votes on May 20. One will be located at the Mott Armory and the other will be held at the American Legion in Regent.

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