Higley USD reviews $95 million bond proposal for fall

Jeff Gadd
Acting Chief Financial Officer Jeff Gadd talks about the possibility of a capital bond to the Higley USD governing board April 7. (Screen shot from YouTube)

Acting Chief Financial Officer Jeff Gadd talks about the possibility of a capital bond to the Higley USD governing board April 7. (Screen shot from YouTube)

The Higley USD governing board reviewed at its April 7 meeting a district proposal to run a $95 million capital bond before voters in the fall.

Among the varied allocations of it, the bond could pay for purchasing one of the district’s two middle schools, both of which are on a lease, and buying land for a possible future school site in the district’s growing northern half, acting Chief Financial Officer Jeff Gadd said.

If put on the ballot for November and passed, the bond would cost taxpayers in the district about $0.14 per $100 assessed valuation in the first year, then stay flat or decline in subsequent years, Gadd said.

The funding would be meant to last five years, and Gadd said it would allow the district to stop spending maintenance and operations money on capital projects and keep capital outlay budget focused on short-term capital needs.

Gadd said bond money should be used for major multiyear capital projects and programs.

The presentation to the board broke down the spending this way:

  • $15.5 million for technology and safety/security

  • $3.5 million for transportation

  • $32 million for the possible lease/purchase of a middle school building

  • $2.5 million for land purchase

  • $11 million for a major maintenance program

  • $27 million for major projects

  • $3.5 million for contingency on budgeted vs. actual costs

Gadd said purchasing one of the middle schools, both of which have $32 million in principal remaining, would save the district taxpayers $21.7 million over time.

He also strongly recommended having money available to purchase land so the district would have the flexibility should it need to put up another school in the growing area north of Pecos Road.

The $95 million represents nearly three-quarters of the district’s $129 million bonding capacity at the moment, Gadd said.

The board is scheduled to do a second review of the bond proposal April 21 and a third May 19 with possible approval of a resolution authorizing a November election June 9.

In other items:

  • The board unanimously approved 5% raises for classified staff on either staff members’ salaries for exempt employees or hourly rate on nonexempt employees.

  • The board unanimously approved a tentative unrestricted capital budget of $22.55 million for fiscal year 2021-22. Final approval would come in June.

  • The board unanimously approved the salary schedule, which included a 2.5% raise to base salaries.

By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.