Jan. 15, 2019 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend School Board set the initial resolution for the April 2, 2019 referendum question at $47 million. The true cost with interest at about 4.25 percent, according to John Mehan with Robert W. Baird & Co., will bring the total to $74 million as that will include $27 million in interest.
Following a presentation by Mehan and the district’s Tim Stellmacher the board discussed how the referendum sat with them.
Board member Ken Schmidt felt $74 million was a lot to ask for.
“I’m one who knows about history and there are cycles in our economy and those cycles are impacted by elections,” said Schmidt. “If we get other administrations who decide they are going to create a negative business climate that’s going to impact our economy and what happens to jobs, it’s also going to impact what happens to the valuation of property. We saw that in 2007 and property values went down. One of the reasons we’ve got phenomenal property values is we have a super-great economy on steroids. Wages are going up we can’t find enough workers for all the jobs. That can turn around and that’s what I’m concerned about. I’m concerned about a cycle like that and the West Bend taxpayer ends up with not such a rosy picture. I also have a problem with the present proposal and it’s really being overbuilt, considering the projections of declining enrollment. I really wonder if we’re doing the wisest thing in the world. I have some grave concerns.”
Board member Joel Ongert spoke about not including interest on the referendum question. “The first step in the referendum process is to pass the initial resolution. Parameters on what is to be included in the initial resolution are set forth in section 67.05 of the Wisconsin state statue to include the purpose and the maximum principal amount of the bond issued,” he said. “I’ve reached out to Quarles and Brady and the attorney I spoke with they said they’ve never included interest in the referendum questions.”
Taking a look at the current referendums the West Bend School District is paying off….
In April 2009, voters in West Bend approved a $29.3 million plan to renovate, as well as build an addition to Badger Middle School.
In November 2012 the West Bend School District passed a $22.8 million referendum to close Barton Elementary School, expand Silverbrook School and add classrooms and a gym at Green Tree Elementary School. The actual total cost of the referendum with taxes and interest was $31.975 million with a 15-year payback on borrowing.
After the Nov. 2012 referendum passed the $31.9 million total was added on top of the $29.3 million payment for the 2009 Badger referendum.
According to Mehan “as of January 14, 2019 the District has principal debt outstanding” including $29,420,000 from Fund 39 referendum and Fund 38 non-referendum approved debt of $5,011,000.
The target date to completely pay off the current debt on referendums is 2028.
Cobbling together the outstanding debt of $34,431,000 plus the proposed referendum and interest of $74 million the total, if approved in April 2019 would bring, the West Bend School District debt on referendums to $108,431,000.
(A call has been placed to Baird’s John Mehan for a confirmation on the $108 million total and the payback timeline.)
Prior to the board discussion on referendum total of $74 million a woman from West Bend spoke during the public presentation portion of the meeting about the referendum topic.
“What is the total cost with interest and secondly I have friends and family in real estate and they admit there is a declining interest in living in Jackson, which is part of this referendum cost. One of the things is there is a decline in the birth rate but also families with young children who have concerns about the 55,000 gallon gasoline spill in 2012. People with young children don’t have much interest when they can buy homes in surrounding areas because they have concerns about that gas spill.
“Also what is the plan. A plan for that money, where is it going? A plan for the school in Jackson a plan for the remodel of the schools. Will that remodel include transgender bathrooms, transgender locker rooms. What is the plan for those things,” said the woman.
Following the public speaking portion of the meeting board member Nancy Justman instructed the superintendent to get the woman who spoke a copy of the plan.