Webster City Schools may be embarking on some new construction and remodeling at the high school if a $13,095,000 bond issue passes. Webster City residents will be asked to weigh-in on the matter Feb. 2 in special bond issue vote.
The project as proposed would bring a new competition gym, new varsity and junior varsity boys and girls locker rooms, new concessions areas, new rest rooms, an expanded lobby to the Prem Sahai Auditorium, and a new lobby for the gym to the high school.
Local residents had a chance to see the plans and hear about the project from the architects and members of a facilities committee Wednesday night at meeting at in the high school auditorium.
"This is a great way to enhance our community's image and help bring people to the area without using property tax dollars," said Tim Anderson, committee member.
"I encourage everyone to vote on Feb. 2," committee member Dave Taylor said. "The committee thinks it is a prudent way of putting revenue money to work."
The facilities committee, comprised of a wide-cross section of people from the community, was formed in June of 2008 to review the district's needs and to take at look at the existing buildings and facilities.
Superintendent Mike Sherwood said that prior to the committee's formation, an architectural firm completed a study of all the buildings in the district, looking at the mechanical, electrical and structural elements of each.
"That provided the basis for the committee. We started discussions about where we are with the facilities and where we want to go from here," he said.
The committee started to establish priorities and toured all of the buildings, he said.
A new opportunity developed when the state-wide penny sales tax went into effect.
"When the state-wide penny sales tax evolved, that changed the picture dramatically. Now we have a revenue stream that doesn't impact property taxes that can be used for construction," Sherwood said.
"The committee looked at how we want to address our needs as a district - not only maintaining what we have, but remodeling and adding to that," he said.
Sherwood said the committee decided that the first project should be a large one, taking into consideration the current low interest rates and competitive construction costs.
"Why not bite off a large project at this time and then complete smaller ones as we go," he said.
Sherwood said the committee recommended a project at the high school. The committee recommended that the board finance the project with general obligation bonds.
The school board could have considered doing the project with revenue bonds, but that wouldn't have given the public a chance to vote on the project, he said.
"The committee also wanted to go the GO bond route because over the life of those bonds, the district will save about $1.2 million in interest over revenue bonds," he said. "That's $1.2 million that we can use for other projects."
"The committee was also adamant that the project would not incur a property tax increase. The project has to be fully funded by the state-wide sales tax," he said. Sherwood added the penny sales tax revenue can only be used for infrastructure and transportation.
"It's sometimes difficult to understand that with the penny tax I can build a building or buy a bus, but I can't pay a teacher's salary," he said. Sherwood said people may ask how the district can consider building when they may have to look at cuts to their budget.
"It's all categorical money. I can't build a building from the general fund. That's for the instructional program.
The superintendent said the new gym and facilities would allow more practice space and reduce the need for early morning practices. And it will consolidate all activities on one campus.
The new facilities would also allow the district to host regional high school events and tournaments. Sherwood added that Jefferson Gym would continue to be used for middle school sports, concerts and community events.
Sherwood said the general obligation bond proposal will not exceed $13,095,000 for 20 years.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 2 at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Webster City. A super majority of 60 percent plus 1 is required for passage, he said.
Area residents can learn more about the project by attending the League of Women Voters forum tonight at city hall. Sherwood will give an overview of the project and field questions from the audience.
Committee members said more information is available on the Web site www.webstercityschoolbond.org
Contact Anne Blankenship at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 832-4350. Carrie Olson contributed information to this article.