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11-23-2011


School will ask
for 60-cent
tax increase

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

Following the results from a recent public opinion survey, the Platte County R-3 School District has reduced the amount of a tax increase it will be seeking in April.

A 60 cent tax hike will be sought to fund $21 million in building projects.

What constitutes a 21 million dollar tax increase?

Hollis and Miller Architects and ACI presented six various projects to the board of educators Thursday night. Majority of the funds would go to the construction of a two-story elementary school on what is known as the Duncan property that the school district currently owns at its Platte City campus.

The proposed elementary school would contain 24 classrooms and hold up to 600 students. Its architectural energy efficient design features a full service kitchen, a 65 foot gymnasium, library/media center, and tennis courts.

The new elementary school cost range sets at $15 to $17 million. The $2 million variable is mainly because of site costs, school officials said.

If this measure passes this upcoming April, the project would be well underway in the fall 2013.

The second proposed project deals with the overcrowding of the Platte County R-3 High School.

The architects at Hollis and Miller have created a preliminary plan to add faculty planning centers, a new parking lot, as well as a bus corral expansion for the bus loading and unloading zone for the Platte County R-3 High School, Siegrist, and Paxton School.

“The parking lot would be placed where the two tennis courts currently are,” said Superintendent Mike Reik. “We will need to relocate them to a new location and we are still working on where that location will be exactly.”

The projected cost for these additional developments totals approximately $1 million. According to the architects at Hollis and Miller, this is the first step in a series of future additions which will be made as the student population increases at the Platte County R-3 High School.

The third proposed project involves a third wing expansion to Pathfinder Elementary at the Barry campus, as well as an extension to the cafeteria. The cost range for this project ranges from $2.7 million to $3.15 million.

“You're going to see as this develops more…we will have some flexibility. There is some concern with the volatility of material cost right now and concern with inflation. We are seeing labor cost relatively low and staying fairly low, but we are seeing material cost rising. So in graphing some alternative bids it gives us some flexibility if we are not within that budget market bid,” said Reik.

Among the three remaining orchestrated projects is a security and technology improvement plan that includes security cameras, district technology upgrades, and an electronic assess system. The projected cost for the district-wide security and technology improvement plan ranges from $200,000 to $500,000.

Maintenance, as well as an energy enhancement project is also proposed. The maintenance project which involves reroofing, restroom renovations, and asphalt repairs carries a price tag between $300,000 and $600,000. The energy enhancement plan is projected to cost another $750,000.

According to a recent survey of some R-3 patrons conducted by Patron Insight, only 46% of participants either strongly favor or favor an 80 cent levy increase, whereas 54% of participants either strongly favor or favor a 60 cent levy increase.

Based upon the tax tolerance findings from the Patron Insight survey the initial proposed tax levy of 77 cents was reduced to 60 cents.

Of the proposed 60 tax increase, 28 cents will be used for operational purposes and the remaining 32 cents for capital, which yields an overall amount of $21 million.

According toReik, the duration of the tax increase is undefined at this time.

“I wish we could meet our enrollment needs without a tax levy increase, but it is not financially possible, said Reik. “Voting in April will be a referendum to how voters want to deal with growth.”
The current enrollment in the Platte County R-3 School district is 3,510 students.