ELIZABETHTOWN — The majority of money from a quarter-cent sales tax would be used to retire school debt, the Bladen County Board of Education said Monday night.
Earlier this month, county commissioners called on the Board of Education to specify how the money raised from a quarter-cent sales tax referendum would be used. Superintendent Robert Taylor outlined a possible scenario for the board to send to commissioners detailing how the system would use the additional money each year.
“If we begin collecting in the spring, that would give us roughly $300,000 to put in escrow toward any construction,” Taylor told the board. “The tax would raise about $500,000 per year, and we could continue to use the remainder in the next eight years to retire debt.”
Until 2022, the district will be paying roughly $800,000 each year for high school construction.
Current facility needs would be addressed with the remaining $200,000. Multipurpose buildings are needed at Elizabethtown Primary, Bladenboro Primary and Bladen Lakes Primary, and the cafeteria needs expanding at Elizabethtown Primary if enrollment is maintained.
After the first five years of addressing immediate need, roofs at the high schools that are nearing the end of their lives will need replacing, and approximately $36,000 in HVAC units need replacing at the Extended Hope/Paul R. Brown facility.
“I recommend we continue looking at 40 percent to deal with issues as they come up,” Taylor said.
Board members liked the idea of having a plan but were worried about what it might do.
“I don’t want to get pushed into a bind where we don’t have any flexibility,” said board member Roger Carroll. “I don’t have a problem putting a plan together and if everything goes (well) sticking to that plan, but if needs arise, we need to have flexibility to deal with those and then get back on task.”
“We need to do what they want to do,” offered board member Alan West. “We’ve done it the opposite way in the past and it has failed every time.”
Taylor said getting the tax passed would put the district in good position to qualify for a capital outlay grant of up to $15 million available to Tier 1 school systems like Bladen County.
In other business, the board:
• Learned the district has $23,000 to assist teacher assistants with furthering their education.
• Discussed what to do with the Extended Hope building. The board made no decision but agreed to discuss it at a Facilities Committee meeting at a later date.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.