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Voters reject new Liberty Union levy

BALTIMORE – Liberty Union-Thurston School District voters by a 2-to-1 margin overwhelmingly rejected a proposed additional 3.5 mill permanent improvement levy Tuesday. The unofficial vote was 687 against and just 341 for the new tax.

The five year levy, which would have been assessed in 2017 and first paid in 2018, was expected to raise $648,000 a year.

Superintendent Todd Osborn explained the proposed levy in several postings on the school district’s website. He noted that the district has built two new schools – an elementary and a middle school, and substantially renovated the high school in 2008-2011. Osborn says these building upgrades and replacements did not include the district’s outside facilities like the track and football stadium. He said the track was last upgraded in 1985 and the football field was first used in 1948.

The proceeds from the new levy coupled with fundraising and the $300,000 savings in interest gained from refinancing the district’s last bond issue would be used to replace the track and upgrade the football stadium. Plans were to install artificial turf which Osborn said would allow greater use of the field by the band and other teams without damaging it.

He explained that the levy funds “can only be used for building facilities, infrastructure, technology infrastructure, school safety and major maintenance. The money cannot be used for salaries, transportation, instructional support or instruction.”

Osborn also said, “If we don’t raise the money to fix the track and upgrade the football through fundraising and this levy, we will borrow money from the operating fund to pay for the upgrades. The track will be replaced this summer and the field will need a major overhaul.” The decision on whether to move ahead on replacing the track and giving the football stadium a “major overhaul” must be made the school board. The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, May 8, in the district administration building behind the elementary school. Board meetings are open to the public and visitors are given an opportunity to comment on issues before the board.

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