Voters get to voice views Saturday on $67M Clover school bond

jbecknell@enquirerherald.comMarch 19, 2014 

  • What’s in the bond?

    The five construction projects and cost estimates are:

    • A new Lake Wylie elementary school on Oakridge Road, across from the middle school, to open in 2016: $25 million.

    • A new middle school on Barrett Road north of Clover to replace the current Clover Middle School, to open in 2016: $40 million.

    • A ninth grade academy for Clover High School in what is presently Clover Middle School, which would be remodeled, to open in 2017: $10 million.

    • An aquatics and fitness center on S.C. 274 north of Crowders Creek Elementary School to be operated in partnership with the Upper Palmetto YMCA: $14 million.

    • Athletic improvements, including synthetic turf on the fields at Memorial Stadium, and one field each at Clover High School and Clover Middle School, and renovations to the stadium including restrooms and ramps to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance: $6 million.

    The balance includes about $4 million for furnishings, equipment, landscaping and other costs.

— Voters in the Clover School District will go to the polls Saturday, March 22, to decide whether to approve a $67 million bond to pay for five construction projects.

The total estimated cost of the five projects is about $99 million; school officials said the district would make a $32 million down payment.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. All normally assigned precinct voting locations will be open, except Poll Branch Road - All Saints Catholic Church. Those voters will go to Scherer Memorial Presbyterian Church, 4800 Charlotte Hwy.

The issue has drawn a flurry of opinions by Clover and Lake Wylie voters on both sides of the issue as the ballot day approaches.

Some have questioned the impact on property taxes.

Ken Love, assistant superintendent for business services for the district, said if the bond is approved, property taxes would be higher than they are in the current budget year, but lower than they have been in previous years.

Love said the district estimates property taxes for owner-occupied homes would go up about $44 to $56 for each $100,000 of assessed value if the bond is approved.

For the budget year that ends in June, he said, taxes for owner-occupied homes are about $96 for each $100,000 in assessed value; that would go up to between $140 and $152 per $100,000 in assessed value if the bond is issued.

“If our estimates are reasonably accurate,” Love said, “that’s less than it (homeowner property taxes) was in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and the same as it was in 2008.”

He said taxpayers in the district are paying less than they were four years ago because tax rates have been reduced as debt has been retired.

Love said the district has been in the process of paying off the construction bonds used to build Larne Elementary and Oakridge Middle schools, as well as other debt.

He said two unknown factors that could affect the property tax rate under the bond include what interest rate the district can get on the money it borrows and the property assessment that determines how much revenue it will receive.

“Either one of those can change this estimate,” he said of the two factors, “but we think it’s reasonably accurate based on the information we have.”

Love said the tax impact on businesses will be proportionally the same as on homeowners, but the actual amount businesses will pay depends on how they are assessed. Owner-occupied homes are assessed at 4 percent and tax assessments for businesses range from 6 percent to 10.5 percent, he said.

Jennifer Becknell •  803-329-4077

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