$14,000,000 school bond up for vote in Bristol Bay

Apr 14, 2015

Voters head to the polls April 28 to decide on whether or not to use bond funds to improve borough school.

Naknek: Later this month, voters in the Bristol Bay Borough will decide whether or not to move forward with a $14,000,000 bond proposal.

If the initiative passes, the money would be used to bring the school up to code and make it more energy efficient, according to Superintendent Bill Hill. He said the district currently spends about $3,000 per student per year on heating and electric costs. 

"Our hope is we can see it somewhere between a twenty and thirty percent savings in energy costs with this project,” said Hill.

The Borough expects that with those savings there won’t a need to raise taxes to make payments on the loan. But even if voters approve the bond, it will still face another hurdle.

The Borough was planning on using a debt repayment program offered by the state Legislature to help pay back school bonds. Hill said the original date to apply for that program was May 1. But now, he said, as part of the Legislature's efforts at deficit reduction, that date will be retroactively moved back to January 1.

"We're hopeful we can get this done and the Legislature will uphold their prior commitment to this program,” said Hill. 

Hill says that if voters pass the bond but debt reimbursement isn't offered through state funds, the Borough can back out of the loan. 

"Our voters need to be confident in the fact that we're not going to go out and hang the Borough on a limb based on sort of an 'iffy' session in Juneau,” he said. 

Bristol Bay voters will head to the polls for a special election on Tuesday April 28.