Voters in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough will decide whether or not to approve a $5.5 million bond proposition for school capital improvement projects. Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst said attempts by the school district to secure state funding for those projects were unsuccessful, so the Assembly voted in favor of issuing a bond proposition.
“What’s very significant in terms of the bond proposition is that the projects have qualified for a blended rate of 68 percent reimbursement by the State of Alaska already. That, coupled with the fact the Borough Assembly has set aside 27 percent of the amount of the principal for funding the projects, collectively 95 percent of the bond proposition principal has already been prefunded,” he said. “There will be no impact, no increase in taxes to the Borough taxpayers if this proposition is approved. Again by approving the proposition, the State of Alaska will be paying more than two-thirds of the cost of the projects.”
Bockhorst said the remaining 5 percent will be paid through the existing half-percent sales tax dedicated to school district capital improvements and bond funding.
Projects that would be funded in the bond passes include school athletic field improvements, implementing energy-efficiency measures, sidewalk improvements, replacement of flooring, and demolition of the Mike Smithers pool.
Bockhorst said if the bond proposition does not pass, the projects will not move forward until funding is found.
He said the borough currently has a balance of principal on bonds of $44.4 million. Bockhorst said with the exception of the aquatic center, all of the bonds are related to school facilities.
“Most of our bonds that are outstanding are reimbursed at 70 percent by the State of Alaska,” he said. “The aquatic center was reimbursed at a lower rate because the state determined that a substantial portion of that was not related to school facilities so it came in at a lower percentage.”
Bockhorst encouraged voters to learn more about the projects and bond proposition. Pamphlets were mailed earlier this month. The information is also available on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough website or at the borough office.
The municipal election is Tuesday, Oct. 2. Polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm. KRBD will air live election coverage after polls close.