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Questions & Answers, Laramie League of Women Voters

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The League of Women Voters urges all eligible voters of Albany County to go to the polls on Tuesday, May 7, to vote for or against the school bond issue that will be the only item on the ballot.

Anyone registered can vote now at the Courthouse until 5 p.m. on May 6.  A person not registered who is 18, a resident of Albany County, and has not had voting privileges revoked can register and also vote now at the Albany County Courthouse by presenting a photo ID.  Or, registration can be done at the polling place on Election Day.

Polling places have been consolidated for this election.  Even within the city of Laramie there are changes to the places where many people will vote.  They are:

  1. Albany County Fairgrounds:  for everyone who usually votes there, plus those who normally vote at Harmony School
  2. Linford School:  for everyone who usually votes there, plus those who normally vote at Centennial School and Lincoln Community Center 
  3. Indian Paintbrush School:  a new polling place for those who normally vote at Laramie High School and the UW Indoor Tennis Complex
  4. Rock River Town Hall:  for everyone who usually votes there, plus those who normally vote in Northern Albany County
  5. Spring Creek School:  for everyone who usually votes there, plus those who normally vote at Laramie Recreation Center

If you have questions or need further voting information, call the Albany County Clerk’s office, 721-2546.

Judy Knight
Sidney Walter

Co-Presidents, League of Women Voters of Laramie

 

The League of Women Voters of Laramie encourages all eligible voters to vote on the proposed bond election on May 7, 2013.  The following information is provided by the LWV, in consultation with the County Clerk’s Office, County Assessor and Albany County School District #1 (ACSD1).

If the bond issue fails, does ACSD1 forfeit all the state money allocated?  No. the school will still be built according to state standards that are approved, but not including the extras for athletics, flexible spaces, enlarged auditorium, enhanced curriculum spaces for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM laboratories) and other items the appointed Community Coalition Committee has recommended. Property purchase on city-owned land on the east edge of Laramie is expected to be final on May 1. 

Can voters approve the bond and reject certain parts of it they do not approve of? No. The specific things the bond would fund are limited to items not funded by the State of Wyoming and for a reserve account.  Specific items have been presented to the community and were necessary to design the bonding package; to alter them would be to break trust with the voters.  ASCD1 has said that they fully intend to honor the recommendations of the Community Coalition Committee. Certainly the dollar amount the bond will collect cannot be increased. However, if new information comes, there is flexibility in the plan for internal change orders to reflect best practices at the time of actual construction.

What is the exact amount the state is paying? Construction costs approved are $62.7 million; already allocated and partially spent is an additional $1.3 million for land purchase and $3.6 million for design, bringing the state total to $67.6 million.  Additional state funding might come after the new Laramie High School is built, if a decision is made to prepare the site of the current LHS for a new Slade School.  New elementary schools are 100% state funded now; no bonding is anticipated for them.

What is the tax proposal specifically?  Voters are asked to mark “For” or “Against” on this ballot wording: “Shall the Board of Trustees of Albany County School District Number 1, State of Wyoming (the “District”), be authorized to issue general obligation bonds of the District in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $25,000,000, for the purpose of paying the costs of planning, designing, engineering, constructing, furnishing, and equipping improvements for a new high school, for upgrades and additions not funded by the State of Wyoming, and for a reserve account to fund maintenance and repairs for such facility in the amount not less than 3% of the bond proceeds; such bonds to mature within 16.5 years of their respective dates, and bearing a maximum rate or rates of interest not to exceed 4.5% per annum; such bonds to be payable from ad valorem property taxes levied against all taxable property in the District imposed pursuant to an ad valorem mill levy imposed without limitation of rate or amount in amounts sufficient, together with other legally available funds of the District, to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds in every year; such bonds to be sold on such terms and conditions as the Board of Trustees may determine?”

Are we still paying off other School District bonds?  No. We passed one bond election on May 15, 1990 mainly for two new elementary schools, Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek for $6,950,000 and in 1991 there was another bond issue passed for $2,600,000.  Together, the average mill levy for these bonds was about 4 mills.  They were restructured with a lower mill levy in 2003 due to increased property valuation and higher than expected revenues.  Both bonds were retired in 2008, a year earlier than originally planned.

Who pays for this election? The School District pays, since this is the only item on the ballot.  Polling places were consolidated; chosen with County Clerk’s recommendations. 

What is the percentage tax increase for property owners?  It depends on assessed valuation (9.5% of market value) and in what other taxing districts your property lies.  It also depends on the mill levy that ASCD1 authorizes the County Assessor to collect so that in the 16.5 year term, the bond will provide the required income. The mill levy may change depending on the economics of Albany County; in 2003 the mill levy was lowered.  Based on today’s projections, ASCD1 is estimating an across-the-board 4 mill tax levy.  With that assumption, the tax increase will be $38 for every $100,000 in property value for most property owners; for industrial property it will be $46 for every $100,000 in property valuation. Some examples: 

  1. A landowner with 320 acres of irrigated land with a market value of $100,158 and an assessed value of $9,515 would pay approximately $38 per year.
  2. A landowner with 640 acres of range land with a market value of $26,895 and an assessed value of $2,555 would pay approximately $10.22 per year.
  3. A homeowner with a house having a market value of $175,000 and an assessed value of $16,625 would pay approximately $76 per year.

Can there be other bond issues voted on later if this one were adopted?  Yes, for schools.  The Wyoming Constitution allows school districts to issue bonds at 10% of assessed valuation ($36 million in Albany County). This bond request is for $25 million. The Constitution also allows counties to have indebtedness of 2% and cities 4% (plus another 4% for sewers) of assessed valuation, which may be in the form of bonds. Both Laramie City and Albany County typically stay at or under the Constitutionally allowed level of indebtedness.  If a major capital expenditure is needed, the City and County must use other taxing sources, such as a sales tax or special purpose tax (not property tax) to generate the funds.

Why so soon for this election?  2013 is an off-year for elections, so there will be no election this fall.  The election could not have been until the 2013 session of the legislature ended and the $62.7 million in state funding for construction was assured.  Construction is slated to start in summer 2013 and must begin by fall 2013 to open in fall, 2015. The May 7 date meets Wyoming statute requirements for a bond election.  If it fails, the soonest it can be voted on again is 12 months later.

Can I vote absentee?  Yes, voting has started now.  You can call the Courthouse and ask that a ballot be sent, or go to the Courthouse now and vote directly.  Either way it’s the same; you are voting an absentee ballot that will be counted when the others are counted May 7. To vote at the Courthouse all you need is to be a registered voter.  If you are not registered and are a qualified voter (18, US citizen, Albany County resident and have a photo ID), you can register and vote at the same time.  You can also take the ballot and return it by 7 p.m. on Election Day to the Courthouse.

Where are the consolidated polling places for this election?

Regular Polling Place Consolidated Polling Place for This Election
Al. Co. Fairgrounds (14-15, 46-11) Al. Co. Fairgrounds
Centennial School (46-13) Linford School
Harmony School (46-12) Al. Co. Fairgrounds
Laramie High School (13-1, 13-2) Indian Paintbrush School
Laramie Recreation Center (46-1, 46-2) Spring Creek School
Lincoln Community Center (45-2) Linford School
Linford School (45-1) Linford School
N. Albany County (all precincts) Rock River Town Hall
Rock River Town Hall (47-11) Rock River Town Hall
Spring Creek School (13-3) Spring Creek School
UW Indoor Tennis Complex (14-1) Indian Paintbrush School

There is a polling place in Rock River for precincts 47-11; 14-11; 14-12; 14-13; and 14-14. Those who normally vote at Centennial will go to Linford School. Those normally voting at Harmony School will vote at the Albany County Fairgrounds. Absentee voting is always available for anyone who prefers to vote that way; no excuse is needed in Wyoming. 

Where can I get more information?  Go to <www.newlhs.org> for more information from proponents of the bond issue, also Boomerang ads.  Opponents had a Boomerang ad on Sun. April 7, page A3. 

 

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