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Springfield bonds: Yes.

Byline: The Register-Guard

E l e c t i o n 2 0 0 6

School districts are, among many other things, property managers - they have a portfolio of real estate holdings that require periodic investments of capital. A well-managed district will avoid big fluctuations in the level of investment, spending a moderate and steady amount each year rather than inviting ruinous bills for catch-up repairs and con- struction.

That's what the Springfield School District is trying to do with Measure 20-117 on the November ballot. It deserves support.

Measure 20-117 would allow the district to issue $42.7 million in bonds for capital investments. The biggest projects would be the replacement of Thurston and Maple elementary schools, built in 1950 and 1946 respectively. The bonds would also finance repair projects throughout the school district: The money would fix leaky roofs, replace damaged siding, repair worn-out plumbing, improve building security, upgrade Internet connections and other technology, increase energy efficiency, add bleachers at high school sports fields, install new windows and remove asbestos.

The list of projects came from the district's Facility Advisory Committee, which began a review of Spring- field schools' physical condition in 2004. The committee recommended projects with a total cost of about $80 million, twice the amount requested by Measure 20-117.

A poll commissioned by the district indicated that voters would support a $60 million bond measure, once that included funds for replacement of Hamlin Middle School. The school board, however, chose to put the $42.7 million package on the ballot.

The smaller amount has an enormous advantage over a larger request: It would not result in an increased property tax rate. Repayment of the bonds proposed by Measure 20-117 would begin just as the school district's previous set of bonds, approved in 1994, is paid off. The tax rate for school bonds in the Springfield district would remain at its current level of about 97 cents per $1,000 of property value.

This means Springfield School District residents can pay for two new elementary schools and districtwide capital investments without seeing their taxes go up.

Of course, if Measure 20-117 is defeated, the 1994 bonds will be repaid and the property tax rate will go down. Taxpayers might welcome that relief, but it would be only temporary. The need for school replacement and repairs would remain and grow worse until the district obtained funds to address it - and by then, an even higher tax rate would be required.

It's better to maintain a steady level of investment that is adequate to fund the district's most urgent construction and repair projects. The Springfield School District - partly through fortunate timing and partly through prudent planning - is able to offer a proposal that does exactly that. Voters should approve Measure 20-117.
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Title Annotation:Editorials; New schools and repairs won't raise taxes
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 29, 2006
Next Article:Saxton's two addresses.

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