Otsego proposes $18.2 million school bond for pool, improvements
The second community input meeting on the Otsego Public Schools proposed bond vote next year will be tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Dix Street Elementary School.
The vote, planned for May, proposes continuing the district’s current debt millage for two additional years to fast track a variety of facility improvements as well as construct a new community swimming pool at the high school.
Superintendent Jeff Haase said, “We’re looking to a bond to replace the sinking fund the community approved in 2016. The purpose of these meetings is to get some community feedback.”
The sinking fund vote created a five-year, 1-mill tax dedicated to help address the $8.6 million in renovations and improvements identified in a 2015 facility assessment of the district’s needs for the next 10 years. The money has already addressed, for example, secure entrances at the elementary schools, resurfacing the eight tennis courts at the high school, and repairs to the middle school roof.
Haase said the $426,000 generated annually by the tax would take 20 more years and four more renewals of the sinking fund millage to address the district’s needs.
He said passing the proposed bond would eliminate the sinking fund millage and generate $18.2 million to address those needs sooner. The district’s bond presentation highlights that the elementary schools will get new playgrounds, air conditioning will be added to cafeterias and gyms at the elementary and middle schools, add additional security cameras, upgrade heating and cooling systems, switch to efficient LED lighting and replace doors and windows for increased energy efficiency.
The single biggest piece of the project will be the pool, however.
“Our current pool is 50 years old,” Haase said, noting it costs approximately $125,000 annually to maintain it. “The assessment shows it would take $3.7 million to bring it up today’s standards in terms of improvements.”
That’s roughly two-thirds what it would cost to build the current pool new, a tipping point that has prompted the district’s architectural advisors to recommend against renovation.
“That’s why we’re looking at building new and to make it a community pool,” Haase said. “Our pool currently has six lanes; we’d be looking to have a minimum of 10 lanes. That would allow us to host more conference and regional meets for our swimmers. It then also allows us to offer more availability for our swim club and other youth events. And hosting those events in town creates revenue in the community as well.”
The pool will also have a diving well, increased seating, a community room, coaches room, storage for inflatables, new locker rooms, a concession stand and restrooms.
He said the new pool would be opened up during the day to the community for lap and family swimming as well as other classes. It would also be more efficient to operate than the current pool, estimated at $75,000 annually.
Haase said, “We looked at the finances, and we believe we will be able to do it without increasing the (debt) millage.”
The 2016 sinking fund passed by a 2,017-1,955 vote.
After tonight, there will be one more community meeting Thursday, Dec. 5, at 6:30 p.m. at Alamo Elementary School. The first meeting was at Washington Street on Nov. 12.
Contact Ryan Lewis at email@example.com or (269) 673-5534.