Voters to decide bond issue Tuesday

November 2, 2011 —

Voters in the Hudson Area School District will go to the polls next Tuesday to decide on a $7.2 million bond proposal. The proposal is for the purpose of remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, equipping and re-equipping school facilities. In addition, the proposal in part for energy conservation and security purposes; acquiring, installing and equipping educational technology in school facilities; equipping and improving physical education/athletic facilities, athletic fields and play fields; acquiring school buses; and developing and improving sites.

After a similar millage issue failed by a narrow margin last May, the Committee for Securing Hudson Area’s Future, the backers of the school bond measure, took a look at what people had objected to in the May election. Taking that into consideration, they worked with the Hudson Area School Board, developed a new downsized bond proposal that attempts to address the objections they heard.

The estimated millage that will be levied for the new proposed bonds in 2011, under current law, is 2.22 mills ($2.22 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation), for a net increase of 2.47 mills. The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is twenty years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 2.67mills ($2.67 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).

The proposal submitted to the state calls for $1,204,286 to be spent on remodeling, $140,472 on construction contingencies, $154,706 to be spent on instructional technology, $200,433 for site work, $138,479 for architectural fees, and $130,513 for project management fees.

The total figure planned for Lincoln School is $1,968,895, of which $200,438 is for site work, and $1,224,206 for remodeling, the largest item of which is replacement of boilers and ventilation systems. Technology upgrades will total $154,706. There are other costs involved in contingency, architectural and construction management fees.

The High School – Middle School building will get $4,762,247 of the bond, if approved. Site work totals $388,261. Remodeling comes to $2,500,763, of which $694,529 goes to replacing roofing. Replacement of window walls and windows comes to $253,380, and restroom renovation comes to $208,575. This part of the proposal also includes earmarking $750,000 to replace at least part of the school’s aging bus fleet. Again, there are other costs involved in contingency, architectural and construction management fees. There is also $163,590 in short term technology improvements.

Work at Thompson Field is largely for safety reasons, according to Hudson School Superintendent Michael Osborne. The total cost of the work at Thompson Field is planned to be $280,858, with much of the money going to a badly needed replacement of the electrical service and upgrading the visitor bleachers to meet safety requirements. This figure is roughly $600,000 less than was asked last spring, with parking lot work and some other renovations being removed.

With over 30 community members involved with the bond committee, this bond proposal was developed by the community, for the community, says Randy Darr, chairman of the Securing Hudson Area’s Future Committee. “Given the tough economic times, no one enters into a discussion of potentially increased taxes lightly. This bond proposal is a very fiscally conservative way that we can help take care of what we have. There are no new buildings, no luxuries in this plan — just refurbishment and replacement of an aging infrastructure.”

The “Securing Hudson Area’s Future Committee” is a community based group that is organizing and developing a plan to present to the to the Hudson Area Board of Education supporting the bond proposal. The intent is to be able to provide details of the needed infrastructure work on the school facilities, says committee chairman Randy Darr.

The bond issue vote planned is an important factor in the financial plan of the district. If it passes, it frees up monies that would otherwise be spent on repairs and maintenance. “Using busing for an example, we spend a lot of money on repairing and keeping our buses in good condition, and some of them are quite old. Obviously, with newer buses there will be less time and effort spent on those buses,” said Osborne. “With the maintenance of our buildings, our workers are spending a lot of time putting patches on roofs, and repairing heating and ventilation equipment. As those things are updated and replaced, we reduce expenses and free up staff time.” If the bond issue doesn’t pass, it will be necessary to use extremely scarce general fund money to address the most critical of these needs, which will make even more staff and service cuts necessary.

The bond issue will be on the Hudson ballot on November 1. Voters in Lenawee County will vote at their normal polling locations, since there is a county millage and other issues on some ballots. Voters in Hudson City, and in the Hillsdale County portion of the Hudson School District will vote at the Hudson Fire Department Training Room on Railroad Street near Market Street.

“The work needed at the school is widespread, including boilers and new roofs, but also extending to many other things that have been allowed to deteriorate over the past few years with the tight school budgets the schools have been experiencing,” Darr said. “One of the points we’re trying to make is that this proposal does not include any new construction — it entirely aimed at things that have not been able to be done over the past few years.”

For more details, visit the committee’s website at http://www.securinghudsonareasfuture.com/ or contact Darr at (517) 204-5543.