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Posted: 08/13/14

RCS board approves athletic bond ballot

Observer Staff Writer
      Romeo Community Schools has approved of the wording for a proposal that will ask voters to increase taxes for improving athletic facilities.
       On Aug. 4, the Board of Education voted 6-0 to approving ballot language for its $7 million athletic bond proposal. Board President Ed Sosnoski was not present at the meeting.
       The proposal will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
       If the proposal is approved by voters, the district would collect an average of .38 mills, or $0.38 per $1,000 of a property's taxable value, for 15 years. A resident with a $100,000 taxable value on their home would pay $38 a year.
       Executive Director of Business Affairs David Massoglia said the bond is considered a "no-increase" proposal. He said the proposal wouldn't raise the district's net debt millage due to bonds used to build the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center and Hevel Elementary maturing.
       "There are a lot of bonds maturing, so the millage has a potential to decrease going forward," he said outside of the meeting.
       Trustee Chris Young said he still opposes the bond, a position he has held since voting against it in March. He said the district shouldn't go for a bond until all facility needs are determined.
       "We did it with technology, we did it with our buses," he said. "When we went for a technology bond, we didn't just pick one school or one classroom to do, we did it all seamlessly together, which is why it was so successful."
       Trustee Anita Banach said the vote for the ballot language didn't reflect a board member's philosophical views on the proposal itself, merely that the language meets legal requirements.
       "I'd just hate for the community to think that something is wrong with the actual language," she said.
       Massoglia confirmed the ballot language was created through the district's legal counsel. Young agreed he could vote for the ballot language itself.
       "I'm not going to be out there posting or campaigning against it," Young said. "I leave it up to the community."
       During public comment, Joan Klosterhaus, president of RASPA, said she would speak with her union about not supporting the bond. She said the group, which represents positions like library technical assistants, hasn't received a pay raise since 2006.
       "It's coming out of my tax money, it's coming out of my house assessment, I'm paying for this ultimately, and I'm paying for this with the same wages I had in 2006," she said.
       Vice-president Chris Giancarli said he could appreciate her position, but said it's the state government's funding model that is causing a lack of raises for employees.
       "You'd rather vote no and deny the kids what they want to have, and their parents what they want to have, just because you can't get a raise," he said.
       Board members pointed out bond money cannot be used for salaries. Klosterhaus agreed, adding that she supported the technology bond but wouldn't support the athletics bond.
       "We do not need an athletic bond, we do not need $7 million dollars," she said. "From my personal perspective and from my union perspective, I intend to give you a run for your money on it."
       As of Aug. 4 she said she hadn't spoken with her union about the bond.
Athletic investments

       The bond would replace Barnabo Field's grass field with synthetic turf for roughly $900,000, and replace the asphalt track with a polyurethane track for $425,000.
       Another $1.5 million would be invested into a new team room facility. The team rooms would be 1,350 square-foot facilities with four toilets and rooms for referees, storage and first-aid.
       A new facility for concessions and restrooms would cost $1.1 million and include an 18-toilet facility and storage for electrical and mechanical equipment.
       Officials have said there is no need to invest in locker rooms with showers at this time.
       Barnabo Field's bleachers would expand from 2,830 seats (2,250 home, 580 away) to 3,500 seats (2,700 home, 800 away) for $160,000.
       About $175,000 of the bond will go toward installing new bleachers in the Romeo High School gymnasium.
       The field's parking lot would be patched up for $150,000.
       Athletics and Activities Director Greg Brynaert has said the improvements would increase the annual amount of events to 125, including football, lacrosse, soccer, band and other tournaments.

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