Funding $94 million in improvements will be a discussion topic at the Hays USD 489 Board of Education work session Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Toepfer Board Room, 323 W. 12th Street.
“We’re still debating on how to proceed on sales tax versus property tax,” Superintendent Dean Katt said at a meeting to recruit volunteers Wednesday.
After Hays City Commissioners declined to move forward with a sales tax, the board is considering a petition drive to “call for an election for the city to impose a one-half percent retail sales tax to be used to repay the costs of the bonds for the USD 489 improvements,” USD 489 BOE Attorney Bill Jeter said last week.
“Needless to say, it’s (the bond) a huge impact on property tax,” Katt said. “We’re working fast and furious on whether that’s a possibility or not. We will have a discussion on Monday night again at the work session if we’re going to try to do a petition.”
Jeter said he has a form of a petition prepared, and it’s being reviewed by Katt and others.
“If and when the board is ready to pursue this, I’ll send a copy to (Ellis County Attorney) Tom Drees. I’m going to have Tom review that per the (Kansas state) statutes because I will have a conflict,” Jeter said.
Jeter also serves as the Ellis County counselor.
Ten percent of the qualified voters in the city of Hays must sign the petition, Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus said.
On Jan. 20 there were 12,284 qualified voters in all of Ellis County, according to Maskus.
Because people are so mobile, they should make sure they’re registered, she said.
There are 18 voter registration sites in the county.
“Probably the busiest, by far, is at the DMV bureau. Many do it while renewing their license,” Maskus said. “Once you’re registered, unless you move or change your name, you don’t have to register again.”
Petition signers can register one day and sign the petition the next day, she said.
“They’ve got 180 days from the date of the first signature to file it with the county clerk. She will determine whether or not there are a sufficient number of signatures,” Jeter said.
If the petitions are approved, it’s at the city’s discretion whether to have a special election for the additional tax, he said.
“If the city declines to approve a special election, it would be put on the ballot at the next primary or general election that the city is participating in,” Jeter said. “That would be August 2017 because the city doesn’t have an election until then. If there aren’t not enough candidates for a primary, it will be November 2017.”
Jeter said he recommends school district officials meet with city leaders before going forward with the petitions.
If approved, the tax would begin whichever is earlier, Oct. 1, 2018, or if the Ellis County one-half cent sales tax expires before that. It will last for ten years, Jeter said.
Only qualified voters in the city of Hays can vote for the sales tax, and only those in the USD 489 boundaries will vote on the bonds.
Some district patrons would vote only on the bond question and not the sales tax.
A date hasn’t been set for the election.
Other possible items for discussion at the work session include:
Workbook/material, activity, technology, kindergarten, summer school and driver’s education fees for the 2016-17 school year.
District bidding process and policy.
Legislation changes to board of education elections and board member terms.
Action on Katt’s and Assistant Superintendent Mark Hauptman’s contracts
Financing bids for the Hays Middle School HVAC and payment to Hoss & Brown Engineers to draw up plans for the system.