By Wally Kennedy
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Voters in the Webb City School District on Tuesday endorsed the issuance of $9 million in bonds to help finance the construction of six safe rooms that will do double duty as classrooms and activity centers.
The vote was 1,301 in favor and 333 opposed, according to complete, unofficial returns. Of those voting, 79.6 percent voted in favor. The proposal needed a four-sevenths, or 57.1 percent, majority to be approved.
Superintendent Tony Rossetti said: “We’re at the 80 percent mark. Our voters turned out. That was the key — our community stepping forward. This gives us direction as to what they want us to do. We are eager to get started.”
Rossetti said the first order of business will be “to thank the people who put in the hard work to make this happen.”
After that, the district will submit architectural plans for the projects to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its approval.
Rossetti said the district hopes to get approval from FEMA this summer so that bids for the work will go out in August or September.
“If everything goes as planned, we’ll break ground in early October,” he said. “These buildings will be built all at the same time.”
The six safe room locations are at Harry S. Truman Elementary and Bess Truman Primary Center, Madge T. James Kindergarten Center, Webster Primary Center, Webb City Middle School, Webb City Junior High School, and Webb City High School. An additional application is pending for Carterville Elementary School.
District officials estimate that the total project could cost $18 million, which includes constructing the safe room shells and then fashioning the interiors to accommodate other purposes. FEMA would pay $7.2 million toward the shells, leaving the district’s share of that portion of the project at $2.4 million. Interior work and furnishings would push the district’s share of the total project to $10.8 million. That total would be obtained from the $9 million bond issue combined with $1.8 million from the district’s capital projects reserve fund.
The bond issue calls for the current debt-service levy to remain at 68 cents per $100 of assessed valuation but to be extended by about five years.
The district’s current total levy is $3.43, and is composed of the 68-cent debt service portion and an operating levy of $2.75. The impact of the $3.43 total levy on the owner of a house with a market value of $100,000 is $651.70 in annual school taxes.
FEMA IS SUBSIDIZING 75 percent of the cost of the safe room shells, which will add 90,000 square feet of space to school district buildings.