November 22, 2016

After watching a presentation from the Carroll Stadium Committee on Monday, the Carroll School Board discussed funding a $750,000 to $2 million portion of the estimated $6.2 million project.

The board made no final decisions and is expected to meet next week to decide on a final number and finalize language in order to bring the issue to the Carroll County Auditor’s Office in time for a February vote.

General consensus among board members seemed to be that the district would foot the bill for the turf field and new track at an estimated cost of $1.71 million.

The board discussed borrowing some money against sales-tax revenue and setting aside another $300,000 to $400,000 per year for the next three years to pay for it.

The idea of borrowing $2 million against sales tax was discussed, but board member Brad Jorgensen said he thinks borrowing $2 million is too much and irresponsible.

“I’m very uncomfortable with $2 million,” he said. “I think $1 million gives us enough flavor in there that we’re not strapped so hard for the next few years.”

The district currently has a $965,000 balance in its sales-tax account, with more than $1 million to be collected before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2017.

“You’re going to have to decide how much of that you want to use for summer projects, technology purchases and general repair,” Superintendent Rob Cordes told the board.

The district will also use the fund to pay around $650,000 in bond payments next year.

The Kuemper Catholic School Board hasn’t officially committed to contributing to the stadium project, but board member Jair Mayhall believes the private school, which would also use the field, will invest as well.

“There have been discussions,” Mayhall told the Carroll board. The board is definitely open to it, and optimistic about working with your board to help do anything we can to get this passed. The stadium enhances both schools. We haven’t necessarily come to a dollar figure yet, but we definitely have expressed an interest in contributing to the rebuild.”

The Kuemper School Board has a private meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Cordes said if the physical plant and equipment levey bond went before the public at $6 million, a 10-year, 75-cents-per-$1,000-valuation, property-tax increase would be needed to pay off the bond.

He also noted that at $9.08, Carroll has one of the lowest property-tax rates in the state.

“People are going to give you grief whether the number is $4 million, $6 million or $20 million,” Cordes told the board. “The first thing you should tell them in my opinion is that this district spent $3.8 million in sales-tax dollars to buy down debt that saved the taxpayers money. There is absolutely no disputing that.”

Board member Gina Badding said she feels like the stadium needs to be the district’s top priority because it’s the facility that’s in the greatest disrepair.

“I feel like we would not be good financial stewards if we didn’t make a plan that would pass, because then we’d be throwing away money at repairs in the meantime,” she said.

Every board member expressed the need for the facility to be open for the public to use as much as possible. Some advocated for keeping the same hours as the Carroll Recreation Center, while others suggested a sunrise-to-sunset schedule. Either way the board wants the entire community to be able to use the track and field when school events are not going on.

“We need to define what the open access is going to look like,” board member Duane Horsely said. “At the end of the day the district is owned by the taxpayers, and we’re here to be stewards of that money.”

The meeting next week will be open to the public. The Daily Times Herald will announce the date, time and location as soon as it is finalized.