Tax or Bond?

Published 8:36 am Monday, October 12, 2015

JACKSON – The Northampton County Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. to Monday, Oct. 12 to discuss funding options for a proposed new central middle and high school.

At the Oct. 6 Board of County Commissioners meeting, Chairwoman Fannie Greene said the Board of Education had agreed at a joint meeting between the two boards that a supplemental school tax would be placed on the March 16 ballot.

On Wednesday, however, Northampton Superintendent Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter indicated the school board has yet to determine which funding mechanism will be requested to the county commissioners.

The two options are a bond referendum or the supplemental sales tax.

Woofter said the bond referendum seems to be the least expensive.

Rough estimates from before the September joint meeting indicated the cost of the central school to be about $32 million, but Woofter said she has gotten seven more thorough estimates since.

She will tell the school board about those estimates and discuss payment options over a 40-year period on Monday night.

County Manager Kimberly Turner said the two boards agreed on the supplemental sales tax option at the Sept. 22 joint meeting.

She said the joint meeting was part of the July mediation agreement between the two boards, “to develop and support a plan to construct a new, centrally located school to serve the Board of Education’s middle and high school students and to present the plan to the voters of Northampton County for approval.”

Turner said the $32 million school would cost taxpayers over nine cents per $1 hundred dollars of valuation each year while the loan was being repaid.

Woofter said the school board would discuss its options for funding and repayment Monday night, the same day the commissioners expect a formal request that a supplemental sales tax be put up for a vote during the March primaries.