By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. — Meetings have been set to help explain a Carthage school bond issue that will be up for a vote in the Aug. 4 election.
If voters approve the measure by a two-thirds majority, interest payments of up to $850,000 won’t have to be added to the costs of a project to build a new Carthage Vocational-Technical School.
Interest costs were to be paid by the Steadley Foundation, as part of a $3 million grant that was pledged to match $2.15 million from the state to build the new school on the campus of the new Carthage High School.
After the financing package was announced, new funding was made available as part of the federal economic-stimulus package, and officials decided to seek approval of the bonds, so that money pledged by Steadley for interest financing could go to other projects. Though voter approval is required, the measure will have no impact on the district’s property-tax rate.
“It should be something that everyone in Carthage should want to happen because it will help the district and make that Steadley money available to help the community,” said Jim Honey, chairman of a committee working on behalf of the bond-issue campaign.
Honey is Eastern District associate county commissioner. He formerly was director of the Carthage Technical School and, before that, a longtime teacher.
He is among those campaigning for the issue before civic groups. Officials will conduct informational meetings on the bonds starting this week.
If voters approve the plan, the federal government would allow “interest” in the form of tax credits via Qualified School Construction Bonds, a part of the economic recovery effort. Missouri has been allocated $280 million of the bonds for 2009 and 2010, but school districts must get approval of bond-issue financing.
“Steadley has said the foundation will pay the interest, but if voters approve the bonds, that money can go to other local projects,” Honey said. “Local investors also could buy the bonds and get a tax credit.”
The Carthage R-9 School Board in April accepted a bid of just over $3.6 million from Wehr Construction, Springfield, for the vocational-technical school project.
Public meetings on the bond-issue proposal are slated for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the commons area of the new high school and for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 28 in the media center at the high school.