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Monday, May 2, 2016

School, water park among Lawrence County issues on Tuesday Ballot

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The above view of the administrative office and gym of the current Pierce City High School shows the 1921 middle school at rear left, which is the center of debate in the bond issues to build a new high school, going to voters on Tuesday.
School and municipal bond issues as well as continuation of road district property tax levels are on the ballot for voters in Lawrence County on Tuesday.

Pierce City school

Voters in the Pierce City R-6 School District will be asked to pass two funding measures to pay for construction of a new high school building. The proposal would commit the district's bonding capacity to near its limit and add a full rollback of the statewide Proposition C sales tax which reduces property tax payments.

The plan calls for erecting a two-story building containing around 14 classrooms facing Adams Street. The new building would enable middle school students to move to the current high school, relocating to the new building.

Passage of the bond issue would raise the property tax levy by 33 cents per $100 of assessed property. The Proposition C proposition would fund a lease-purchase to cover the balance of construction, adding another 45 cents per $100 of assessed property.

The district's property tax would rise by 22 percent, from $3.41 to $4.19. The real estate tax on a $100,000 property would rise by approximately $148 a year, in addition to increases in personal property taxation.

Construction of a new building is the first of three phases proposed in the school board's revised master plan. Additional phases would require further funding initiatives.

The construction plan assumes that the current middle school building will be demolished, though does not fund removal of the 1921 structure. The new building would block the view of the older building from Adams, reshaping appearance of the campus.

In putting forward the construction plan, the school board has not seriously considered renovating the old school, despite appeals and an alternative construction plan proposed by Historic Pierce City. The old building has been modified to expand classroom space over the past 20 years. No architectural plan to update the building has been proposed or requested by any board in that time.

Passage of both initiatives is needed to provide adequate funding for the project. A four-sevenths majority is needed for each.

Aurora water park

In Aurora, a bond issue is on the ballot to pay for a $3,125,000 water park. The city's municipal swimming pool last summer had to be shut down due to leakage. To replace the existing pool, the city is proposed constructing a much larger facility, more in line with the Cassville water park as a replacement.

Funding would cover purchase of 12 acres of land to erect the facility on the south side of East Prospect Street, beyond the Hudson Avenue intersection. The park would be visible from Highway 60.

The bond issue would run for 20 years, and would require a four-sevenths majority to pass. Passage would boost taxes for a $100,000 house by around $75 a year.

On both the Pierce City and Aurora projects, advocates are arguing current construction costs and interest rates at historic lows would result in a smaller investment than delaying action.

Other issues

Several other initiatives are also on the ballot.

In northeastern Lawrence County, voters in the Ash Grove R-4

School District will be asked to pass a $3.8 million bond issue. Funds would cover a new wing and renovations to the high school, as well as improvements to the Bois D'Arc Elementary School and other improvements. A four-sevenths majority would again be needed for passage.

Residents in Stotts City are being asked to authorize appointment of a police chief by the city council. Presently Stotts City relies on the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement. A simple majority is needed for passage.

Voters in the Green Benefit Special Road District, west of Miller, and the Vineyard Special Road District, around Stotts City, are being asked to retain the property tax levy of 22 cents per $100 of assessed property for another four years. A simple majority is needed for passage.

Voters in the Pierce Benefit Special Road District are being asked to retain their 19-cent property tax levy for another four years as well. The Aurora Special Road District has a 17-cent levy that is up for renewal.

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