Apr 02, 2024

$20M school bond levy highlights St. Joseph ballot today

Posted Apr 02, 2024 11:00 AM


St. Joseph Post

A $20 million bond issue highlights the decisions facing St. Joseph voters today.

Co-chair of Friends of the St. Joseph School District, Kevin Kelly, says this is an important issue with a profound impact well beyond just the dollar figure.

“Frankly and simply put, we are trying to reverse the course of the St. Joseph School District to bring it more into a positive realm and positive movement, because we have under-invested here in St. Joe for generations and that’s not an exaggeration,” Kelly tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline.

It will take a 57% majority to approve the bond issue.

Kelly says failure to approve this bond issue diminishes the district’s ability to borrow in the future.

“If this bond issue does not pass, we actually go backwards in our capacity,” Kelly says. “And, again, not to get into the details, but the capacity to spend, to improve the school district, is diminished.”

The St. Joseph School District has paid down enough debt to borrow an additional $80 million without a tax increase. If a bond issue is not approved, the school tax levy could drop and it would take a vote of the people to raise it.

Friends co-chair, Melanie Barnes, points out the district can issue the bonds without a tax increase, because of how well the district has handled taxpayer dollars.

“We have got to get out of the mindset from the past and we have got to put more trust into our administrators,” Barnes says. “They’ve done a good job paying down the debt thus far and we’ve got to continue moving forward.”

Barnes says it’s fiscally responsible to approve the bonds.

“If we don’t do this now and we realize in four years we need to do it then, it’s only going to cost more,” Barnes says. “So, we’ve got to take advantage now. We have waited too long and we have not invested in so many years and it’s only going to cost more.”

Money will be spent to install turf fields at the high schools, upgrade heating and cooling systems, install a district-wide intercom system, build roads at Oak Grove and Carden Park elementary schools, upgrade sidewalks, and expand Hosea Elementary school among other improvements.

The St. Joseph School District has a full list HERE.

St. Joseph voters will choose three school board members. Ten names appear on the ballot, but candidate Steven Carillo has dropped out of the race. St. Joseph School Board President LaTonya T. Williams and school board Vice President Kenneth W. Reeder are running for re-election. Others on the ballot include Warren H. Ingram III, Sean Connors, Ronda Chesney, Mike Moore, Jacob McMillian, Kimberly Dragoo, and Tami L. Pasley.

The City of St. Joseph has placed seven charter changes on the ballot, including a proposal to establish staggered city council member terms, Proposition 1 on the ballot. Other charter changes would allow citizens to run for only one city offices at a time (Proposition 2), require a two-thirds vote of the city council to fire the city manager (Proposition 3), allow the city council to modify city departments without a charter change (Proposition 4), to move the Personnel Board and the Museum Oversight Board from the city charter to the city code (Proposition 5), allow the city to broaden media outlets used for official notices (Proposition 6), and establish a retirement age of 70 for municipal judge (Proposition 7).

Question #1 on the ballot would decrease the tax levy for the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library from 31 cents to 28 cents and remove the sunset clause attached to 15 cents of the library levy.

You can follow Brent on X @GBrentKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.