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Elma bond, levy on the February ballot

The Elma School District will be asking its voters to make a pretty serious investment in the future this February, when it places both a relatively routine $3.17 million, two-year maintenance and operation levy and a big-ticket $8.4 million bond measure on the ballot.

The Elma School Board voted unanimously on Nov. 18 to place both items on the ballot for the Feb. 11 election.

The $8.4 million request is for a 20-year bond issuance with the money going toward building a new football stadium on a 20-acre parcel located near Elma Elementary School. The 1,500-seat stadium would feature an all-season turf field, a rubberized track, concession stands, lighting and parking. it would replace Davis Field at the high school, where the 64-year-old, 800-seat grandstand is being torn down this summer.

Elma School District Superintendent Howard King said the parcel near the elementary school has been deemed suitable for the stadium, a new transportation facility and the possible future home of new baseball and softball fields for the district.

“Down the road, it can be a very good sports complex,” King told the school board at its regular December meeting.

The two-year M&O levy would cost district taxpayers $3.69 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2015 and 2016. That translates to about $370 per year for a home with an assessed value of $100,000.

The 20-year, $8.4 million bond measure is figured to cost taxpayers about 95 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning the taxes on that same $100,000 home will go up about $95 per year for two decades.

The $8.4 million bond would pay only for the football complex, with the transportation center being paid for out of district funds and funding from the state, once Elma sets up its transportation co-op with the neighboring Satsop and McCleary school districts.

“Those are preliminary costs based on existing projects we studied,” said Ryan Moore of Vector Engineering, who is serving as lead consultant on the stadium project.

Vector Engineering has offices in Tumwater and Elma. Moore said the firm BLRB Architects of Tacoma is also involved with the project and its preliminary cost estimates.

Money for baseball and softball fields would have to come down the road or possibly from any money left over from funding a new football stadium,” King said.

As for the M&O levy, King said, “Our number one goal was to maintain services, so it’s truly a maintenance levy. King said because of new financial support form the state for all-day kindergarten in the district, some of those levy dollars will be used instead for updating text books and technology throughout the district.

“We feel pretty good about it,” King said. “We didn’t raise the overall amount (of the levy) but we were able to cover some things we haven’t been able to in the past.”

Moore believes the proposed site of the football stadium is ideal for such a project as it sits on higher ground, away from any flood plains.

“It’s a nice, flat site up there,” he said, “so the project looks really good.”

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