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JPS bond issue cost too high

The Citizens Advisory Committee for Jamestown Public Schools is recommending $34.1 million for a school improvement bond issue. The cost for the projects is too high, and the school board should pare down the list of the committee's recommendations before putting the issue before voters.

Paying off a $34.1 million bond issue would cost taxpayers about $166 per year for 20 years for each $100,000 of real estate property value. Owners of a $200,000 home would pay about $6,640 over the life of the bond issue.

In 2015, voters rejected a $19 million bond issue for planned school upgrades by 33 votes. The yes votes were in the majority but fell short of the 60 percent required for a school bond issue to pass.

The vote came about six weeks after the announcement that CHS would not build a $3 billion nitrogen fertilizer plant in the area. The CHS announcement rattled the economic confidence of the community and may have played a part in the 2015 results. Still, moving ahead three years, it would seem prudent to ask for less than the last vote that failed rather than nearly doubling the request.

Among the projects on the committee's list is construction of a new football stadium for $7.5 million. Have other options been considered, such as working with the University of Jamestown to use its facility or seeking the sponsorship of benefactors for a new facility?

The timing of the vote also poses a problem. The Citizens Advisory Committee worked on this plan for more than a year but missed the deadline to put the issue on the June primary election ballot where it might have drawn a higher voter turnout.

Instead, the Jamestown Public School District will incur the costs of a special election that could see less voters.

The Jamestown Public School Board plans action on the request at its July 16 meeting and could schedule a special election for this fall. The board has the authority to pare down the list submitted by the Citizens Advisory Committee and reduce the requested amount of the bond issue.

The school board needs to use that authority because Jamestown area residents can't afford the price tag associated with these recommendations.