According to a recent survey, roughly half of registered Moffat County voters would support a bond measure from the local school district.
The Moffat County School District is considering a $40 million bond ask of voters in 2021.
During Thursday’s Board of Education work session, David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies presented the survey’s findings to board members and interested parties, stating that roughly 50% of the 318 registered voters in Moffat County survey said they would support a bond measure, while 40% said no, and the final 10% remained undecided on the matter.
The survey, which was conducted April 14-18 through a text messaging system and district email invite, was weighted to be representative of the voter demographics for an odd-year election in the school district, Flaherty said in his presentation.
The 10-year, $40 million bond measure being considered by the school board would increase residential property taxes by 11.9 mills to fund $40 million of necessary infrastructure repairs, maintenance, and capital projects at several different schools in the district. The mill levy increase would cost homeowners $14.22 a month or $170 each year on a home valued at $200,000.
The considered bond measure would also increase taxes on commercial property by 11.9 mills and would cost $1,727 each year on commercial property valued at $500,000.
The last time MCSD asked voters for a bond was 2007, according to previous Craig Press reporting. Currently, the district has 31.826 mill levies in place, according to John Wall, the district’s finance director.
The bond measure being considered would fund numerous capital project concerns throughout the district, including infrastructure, security, and surface upgrades. The hope is that the district receives some Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant funding this year to help offset the full price of the bond after not receiving a single cent from the BEST grant program.
Previously, more than 500 staff members, parents, and community members responded to Moffat County School District’s bond survey that was sent out in August 2020 before the board ultimately decided not to pursue asking voters for a bond last November.
Board of Education Vice President JoBeth Tupa was against asking voters last year, citing the need to ensure the safety and security of students and staff last fall as a reason why the board should not go after a bond issue heading into the start of the 2020 school year.
However, Thursday’s workshop regarding the recent survey results, and the district being in crunch time, has Tupa looking at things in a different light.
“I always understood the huge capital project concerns that need addressed in our district; time is not our friend,“ Tupa said. ”Time is not our friend, and financially it’s not our friend either.
“What the results told me is that people could see with a little bit of framing that there is a gross need for this. …It made me feel a little more hopeful. We can’t keep putting this off, and we don’t want to keep putting it off and then have to do something in an emergency fashion.”
Of the 318 responders to the most recent bond survey, 49% were male and 40% were female, while 2% declined to state their sex. Those 65 and older were the highest age demographic to respond, with 35% of the 318 falling into that age range. Another 26% were between the ages of 55-65.
Aside from supporting the bond in the survey, responders also answered questions regarding how they view the district, approval ratings on the job the district is doing in terms of educating students, and stating an opinion on if they believe the district is fiscally responsible or not.
A total of 61% of voters stated they approved the job the district is doing educating students, 60% of voters said they have a favorable opinion of the district, and 45% said they feel the district is fiscally conservative. Thirty-six percent believe the district is not fiscally conservative.
“One can pass audits yet still be fiscally irresponsible,” a male 35-44 responded in the survey, stating why he would vote no on the bond measure. “I have seen the district waste money on enough stupid things, or invest in them with no real planning, costing the district more in the long run. Further, knowing the mines/plants are closing in the next 5-plus years, you’re wanting to saddle the taxpayers who will not have those incomes with long-term mills and no recourse. Find a different way; better prioritize over bleachers to keep the sun out of the home crowd’s eyes.”
A female between the ages of 45 and 54 stated that she would vote yes on the bond measure, citing the attention the district’s buildings have needed for years.
“The schools have not gotten the attention they have needed for a while,” she said in the survey. “It is going to cost money to upgrade. Other parts of the community use the facilities, and the school districts has shared with the public for years. Maybe an upgrade in schools will bring with it and upgrade in teachers?”
With the bond survey results in, the Board of Education will now weigh the next steps forward regarding a possible bond measure presented to voters later this year.
Managing Editor Joshua Carney can be reached at 970-875-1790 or firstname.lastname@example.org.