Lolo Voters Split Over New Revised School Bond Measure
Fewer than 50 votes shot down an October ballot issue to build a new elementary school in Lolo. Now the school district is taking another swing at the $10.5 million bond, but this time voters will see some changes to the measure.
The main changes involve the location of the proposed school, some cuts to expenses, and a smaller impact on tax payers. Still, some voters said this isn't enough to make them vote in support of the measure.
Lolo School District officials are continuing their fight to build what they say, is a much needed school for kindergarten through fourth grade students in the district.
"It would be a great move for the community, kids, parents, just the community overall," said Lolo School District Superintendent, Michael Magone.
A similar measure appeared on the ballot during school elections in October, but was shot down by just 43 votes. Supporters say it's worth trying again. They say the current school is overcrowded and out of date. The bond will now appear on a mail-in ballot in February with some changes.
"Obviously we have the same issues we had before, and this is most financially practical approach in the short term and long term," Magone said.
Based on input from Lolo voters, the district has decided to move the school further east on the 20 acre Farm Lane location, which makes it further from homes, and brings down utility and asphalt costs. The move will also lower the annual taxes resident pay to support the school, but the revisions aren't enough to change the minds of many opponents.
"I'm still 100% against two schools in Lolo, which we simply can't afford," said Lolo business owner, Frank Miller.
Miller, spearheaded the campaign against the measure in October. He said despite the lower tax rate on the revised measure, hidden expenses would make that rate go up.
"The light on side walks will have to be lit up. They'll have to put up a railroad crossing and lights there, so there's a lot of expenses they're not discussing with people," Miller said.
Voters will get their say on the issue when they get their ballot by mail in February. If the bond is approved the owner of a $200,000 home, would pay about $251 per year.
The mail-in election will take place February 20 through March 12. The community is also welcome to discuss the issue during a meeting next Tuesday.