WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published October 04, 2013, 09:14 AM

Grafton residents approve $14 million bond issue to build new middle school

Grafton, N.D., residents approved a $14 million bond issue to build a new $19 million Century Middle School on Thursday. The unofficial vote was 687 for and 177 against. The results will not be official until the canvassing board meets Oct. 9.

By: Kevin Bonham and Justin Glawe, Grand Forks Herald

Grafton, N.D., residents approved a $14 million bond issue to build a new $19 million Century Middle School on Thursday.

The unofficial vote was 687 for and 177 against. The results will not be official until the canvassing board meets Oct. 9.

The new school will be built adjacent to Grafton High School and Century Elementary School, in a single campus, replacing a crowded, aging 1935 building with several building additions, Superintendent Jack Maus said.

“We’re very pleased with the turnout and the results,” Maus said late Thursday. “There wasn’t a real strong ‘no’ movement.”

Officials hope construction can begin by the spring or summer of 2014, with the building being ready by the start of the 2015-16 school year.

School officials promoted the project by saying the school could be built without raising local property taxes. That was possible because the North Dakota this year approved a 50-mill school mill levy buydown, which means that the state government, rather than individual property owners, pays for 50 mills of each school district’s property taxes for 2013.

In addition, the school district next summer will retire a construction bond that was used to build Century Elementary in 1999.

According to school district information, the owner of a house valued at $100,000 paid $724.50 in property taxes in 2012. After the state buydown, taxes on that same house would decrease by 29.9 percent, to $513, for 2013.

Now that the bond issue has passed, taxes on that house will drop by 8 percent, from $724.50 to $666.

Likewise, property taxes on agricultural land would decrease. Taxes on one quarter-section (160 acres) of farmland valued at $200,000, for instance, were $1,610 in 2012. After the state buydown, those taxes would drop to $1,140 for 2013. Those taxes will be $1,480 in 2013 as a result of Thursday night’s vote on the bond issue. That’s a reduction of $130, or about 8 percent.

Those estimates assume that property assessments do not increase, however.

Maus said the existing Central Middle School, which is located near downtown Grafton, is too small to accommodate a growing enrollment, and needs too many repairs to justify the cost.

A study conducted by Johnson Controls estimated it would cost about $7.5 million in renovations to bring the building up to modern standards.

Grafton’s K-12 enrollment has increased by 73, or about 9 percent, to 886 since the 2010-11 school year. The enrollment is forecast to continue growing gradually over the next 10 years, according to Applied Insights, a planning firm specializing in demographics.

Tags: