Leader Blues

Friday, March 07, 2008

TOP STORY > >Cabot will decide on new millage

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Patrons of the Cabot School District will get the chance to help further the district’s growing needs by approving a 3.9 debt-service millage increase Tuesday that would bring Cabot to a total of 39.9 mills.

The additional mills would allow the district to sell bonds and move forward with $50.5 million in proposed building projects. If not approved, construction projects within the seventh largest school district in the state will stall because of the lack of funds, Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman said.

Residents can cast their votes at one of two polling sites – the family life center at First Baptist Church, 306 W. Pine Street, or the youth center at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 3105 Hwy. 89.

Although the total cost of the proposed projects is $50.5 million, Cabot’s portion will be less than half — $22 million — because of the state facilities-partnership program.

The requested millage increase of 3.9 mills will generate the $22.8 million needed for the district’s share of the capital projects, Thurman said.

With the millage increase, Cabot’s total millage rate would be 39.9 mills, remaining the lowest school millage rate in Lonoke County and placing Cabot at the average millage rate of the top 10 largest school districts inthe state. Cabot is the seventh largest district in the state.

The cost to homeowners for the proposed 3.9 mills is based on the home’s assessed property value. Taxes are based on 20 percent of the assessed property value with one mill being equal to 1/10 of one cent or .001. On a $100,000 home, 3.9 mills would cost an additional $78 a year; broken down, that’s $6.50 a month – less than a quarter a day. Owners of a $50,000 home would pay $39 more a year or $3.25 a month; a $150,000 home – an additional $117 a year or $9.75 a month; a $200,000 home – $156 more a year or $13 a month.

The district has 15 building projects planned using funds gained from a millage increase.
In the list of projects is $2.5 million to pay the district’s share of costs to rebuild Junior High North, still over a year from completion.

Also planned are a $13 million cafeteria/HPER (Health, Physical Education and Recreation center) at Cabot High School; a proposed elementary school on the west side of the district at an estimated cost of $11.4 million; $7.3 million in additional secondary classrooms; a total of $8.1 million in renovations on the high school’s auditorium, science building and agriculture building; a $2.3 million science addition at Junior High South; $600,000 to add heat and air conditioning units to school cafeterias – the only cafeterias currently with heat and air are Stagecoach and Magness Creek Elementary schools.

The list also includes $1.8 million to install heat and air conditioning units in activity buildings around the district; $200,000 for a new roof at Eastside Elementary School; $700,000 to add on to Westside Elementary School; $2 million for a permanent charter school facility; $200,000 for a student area/amphitheater at CHS; and $400,000 for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements and accessibility.

“Taxes are frustrating to everyone. It is important to remember that a local millage election has a direct impact on the local school district and students. Our patrons, with or without children, will see the continued focus on exemplary programs, new facilities and upgrades to our current facilities,” Thurman said.