Mammoth Spring residents will decide on school improvement issue
MAMMOTH SPRING -- Voters in the Mammoth Spring School District will have the opportunity to go to the polls Sept. 20 to vote for or against Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) to help with school improvements. If the issue passes, Mammoth Spring School Superintendent Ron Taylor said, the millage at the school will increase by 2.11 mills to 30 mills.
"For example, if a person is paying $100 in school taxes their taxes will be raised to $107, about a 7-percent increase," the superintendent said.
Taylor explained the QZABs. "This is a program allowed by the state where the federal government allocates so many dollars in QZABs to improve school facility's. These are no interest bonds. The lending institution involved with the bonds makes its money by getting federal tax credits in lieu of interest it would have charged the school," Taylor said.
The superintendent said the Mammoth Spring School Board approved the QZAB issue in February.
"Statewide this year Arkansas was allowed to let schools issue $12 million in QZABs. Twenty-one million dollars was requested by 29 school districts across the state," the superintendent said. He said his school district initially asked for $785,000 in bonds. He said all the school districts asking for the bonds presented proposals to the State Department of Education.
"I guess the state saw the need for the improvements in our school district. Many of the districts that requested the bonds were not accepted," Taylor said.
The school did not receive the nearly $800,000 it asked for. The ballot issue will ask for $424.728. The superintendent said this is normal. He said none of the districts that asked to be accepted for the bonds received the full amount they asked for.
"Mammoth Spring Schools have a long tradition of offering quality educational programs designed to meet the needs of students," Taylor said. "We have always strived to meet and exceed the goals and standards set by the Arkansas Department of Education and want to continue to offer programs that let our students obtain the highest educational degrees or be highly qualified to directly enter the workforce."
He said with this in mind the district has three goals that it plans to achieve with the help of the QZAB program.
He said the first goal would be to provide a medical professions lab for students in grades 9-12. The second goal would be to provide new educational opportunities for students in grades K-12 through distance learning. He said goal number three would be to provide building enhancements to ensure a safe, comfortable learning environment.
With a bond issue comes the issue of tax increases. "There are currently only four school districts in the state that are taxed at a lower rate than the Mammoth Spring School District," Taylor said.
He said right now the school is operating at 25 mills for operation and 2.89 mills for debt service, amounting to 27.89 total. The superintendent said the state average is 35.14 mills. There are 254 school districts in the state.
"There are two other school districts in Fulton County both currently with higher millage than Mammoth Spring.
The Salem School District is 31 and the Viola School District operates with a millage of 29.82.
"The tax increase will amount to very little. If a family's primary residence is valued at $50,000 or less and they apply for the Homestead Release through the county assessors office, they will see no difference in their tax bill," the superintendent said.
He said on the other end of the spectrum if real estate is appraised at $150,000 and the QZAB issue passes, the owner of the property will see a difference of $63 a year in their tax bill or $5.28 a month.
"If the total taxes due on a primary residence are $300 or less, there will be no real estate tax due.
Each primary residence tax bill will receive a credit of up to $300 if the credit is applied for," Taylor said.
He said he invites all Mammoth Spring School patrons to call him at 625-3612 or to visit him at the superintendent's office to learn more about the QZAB issue.