STANFIELD — This October, taxpayers can expect their first payment on the school district bond to be lower than previously estimated, at approximately $2.49 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The $14 million bond, which was passed with 65% of the vote in May, was originally estimated to cost $2.70 per $1,000.
Stanfield School District Superintendent Beth Burton said that careful timing helped the district successfully sell $12.7 million of the bond at a premium in August, lowering the estimated rate for taxpayers.
“We told the community they wouldn’t pay more than $2.71,” she said. “We’re really fortunate to have good advisors who kept their eye on the market.”
Tax payments on the previous bond, which passed in 1999, wrapped up in June. The money was used to build a new elementary school.
In 2017, the district had to increase the levy rate on that bond for taxpayers due to an assessment error discovered during a 2015-16 audit. The previous years, they’d not been charging enough to pay off the bond before its expiration in 2019.
Burton said this time around, the district is making sure that level payments are a priority.
When Burton stepped into the superintendent position in 2018, she said she saw how past rates were completely staggered over the years.
“It caused a lot of strife in the community, people were really unhappy. It really was a wild swing from year to year,” Burton said. “One of the things that was really important to us was a level payment.”
The $14 million bond, along with $4 million in grants from the Oregon School Capital Improvement Fund, which were secured last September, will be used to construct a middle school wing at Stanfield Secondary School.
Currently, the middle school and the music program are being housed in two modular buildings on school property.
Burton said that if all goes according to plan, the district hopes to take out the modulars before the end of this school year. Renovations on the secondary school are set to take place at the beginning of summer.
Part of the bond money also went toward purchasing the property that Stanfield Elementary was built on this July. The property was previously being leased from Union Pacific.
Other projects include security updates, the addition of windows to the secondary school and a parking lot reconfiguration for the elementary school.
Burton encouraged Stanfield residents to give a call to the district if they have any questions or concerns about the bond. She said the district will try to release information on the bond projects regularly.
“I feel like we did right by the community,” she said.