The next bond proposal could begin to take shape as early as next month, with options presented to the public by the end of summer and a vote possible early next year.
Hays USD 489 Superintendent John Thissen outlined for the board a possible range of dollar amounts and length of time for another bond, and after just under an hour of discussion, the board agreed at its June 25 meeting to set parameters and determine just who will create options for a new bond.
Citing a survey for last year’s bond that indicated the public would support a $10 to $12 increase per month on their property taxes and a timeline of 10 to 15 years on the bond, Thissen showed the board how much money they might have to work with.
“If you end up working on that scale … you are going to range between $18 and $29” million, he said.
“That seems to be the range that we’re talking about as far as public support,” he said.
Thissen then suggested the board create a plan that could lead beyond that 10 or 15 years, taking into consideration the makeup of the board, the district’s administration and the economy are among the unknowns.
“What you want to do is create a plan that gives options in the future,” he said.
He suggested a committee could create four or five options that would be presented to the board. The board could narrow that down to two or three options that would then be presented to the public through a bond survey, Thissen said.
“I think this could be done through the summer,” he said. “The time frame could be a situation where … it could still be conceivable to have a January or February election.”
Board members generally were in agreement with Thissen, although board members Sophia Young and Greg Schwartz said they thought a 15-year bond — half the time of last year’s proposal — was still too long and favored a 10-year bond.
Schwartz, however, spoke of first creating a long-range facilities plan before offering a bond, something he has endorsed frequently in the board’s discussions this year.
“At what point do we come up with a long range or strategic plan? It seems like we're jumping ahead. I don't want to delay this and I don't want to belabor it either, but it seems like that long-range plan, someobdy's got to make that decision at some point,” he said.
“Every other community that does a lot of bonds and transitions from one to the next, they already know what phase two is,” Schwartz said. “We may never get there, you're right, it may not pass. But the fact it may not pass doesn't mean we don't plan for it. I think we still have to do that.”
Thissen agreed somewhat with his point, but stressed the need for flexibility in that planning.
Board members were in agreement it’s time to do more than talk.
Young said she believes the board is now at a time to make decisions.
“This is the facilities planning that I was kind of hoping I’d see us go towards, seeing what buildings we do want to get away from, how many elementary schools we want, and then we’re setting those parameters for those options,” she said.
“We as a board should shape the plan we want of the future,” board member Mike Walker said, “but if we keep talking about ‘the big plan, the big plan,’ and we never get to the big plan, and that means we never get to the bond, we’ll never get anywhere. Let’s start thinking about getting something within those parameters and moving,” he said.