Voters to decide fate of D91 bond proposal on Aug. 28

Image Courtesy: Idaho Falls School District 91 via website

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Voters in Idaho Falls will decide the fate of a bond proposal by Idaho Falls School District 91 on Tuesday, August 28.

The bond proposal is the second one to go to the ballot box this year after the district failed to pass one during the May primaries. But, opponents say the school district is misrepresenting how the bond will actually impact voters.

“The August 28th bond will cost each taxpayer $3620.00 total in new taxes for each $100,000.00 in taxable property they own, based on current market conditions, spread over the next 20 years, if both tiers are passed,” according to the D91 Tax Payers website. “This is a new yearly tax, and it is right on the ballot. Many feel this is just way too much taxing and spending when there are other reasonable solutions to fixing up our schools. ”

District 91 says their proposal doesn’t raise the bond tax rate and will only cost tax payers .424 percent of their property value. Any increases in taxes, the district said, are only the result of high property valuations from the county.

“The Bonneville County Assessor sets property values,” according to Idaho Falls School District 91. “The school district has no part in determining property values…If property values don’t change, the taxes you pay D91 won’t change. If your property value increases, then you would pay more in taxes to D91, as well as the city, the county and most other taxing districts.”

Opponents to the bond also take issue with how the district determined the awarded the architect, bond company and construction management company. District 19, according to D91 Taxpayers, didn’t take any bids from contractors before selecting who they would hire for the proposed projects.

“No matter how they try to paint it, this is no bid contracting and it is almost always the worst way to go for the taxpayers,” according to D91 Taxpayers spokesperson Lisa Keller. “The district did not get bids before the selections, and you can take that to the bank…There just aren’t any.”

District 91 disputed the claim and told voters Idaho law requires a bidding process for bond projects and only selected Bateman-Hall and Hummel Architects, and Alderson, Karst & Mitro to determine cost estimates.

“When this work began in 2016, D91’s Board of Trustees followed standard public works practices and put out a Request for Qualifications for a Design Team and a Construction Manager/General Contractors to remodel both IFHS and SHS high schools,” according to Idaho Falls School District 91. “The board received proposals from a number of companies…They interviewed the top candidates. Bateman-Hall and Hummel Architects, with Alderson, Karst & Mitro were selected. If the bond passes, all the work will be put out to bid. D91 is proud of its history of working with local contractors.”

The bond vote is Tuesday, August 28. Links to complete arguments by both proponents and opponents of the bond can be found below.