Property owners inside the Conway School District will be asked to vote on a millage increase of 1.9 mills this coming September.

The Conway Public Schools Board of Education will begin discussions on the millage increase at tonight’s 6 o’clock meeting.
The millage rate was recommended to the board by superintendent Greg Murry, who worked with the school’s primary fiscal agent, Beardsley and Associates, the company that officially sells bonds for funding the district’s construction projects.

“We worked with them to determine about how much it would cost to service the debt over the next several years,” Murry said. “We have tried to minimize overall millage impact to voters. We do understand there’s a limited amount of tax increase any patron will be willing to pay.”

Murry and the company’s calculations will allow the amount to service debt associated with the construction of a new elementary school and the reconstruction of the Conway High School-West campus, as well as additional operational cost.

Murry said he is certain the community will support the increase when given the “real numbers.” 

A 1.9 mill rate to the individual property owner would translate into the following example, according to Murry: A property owner of a $150,000 home might pay about $57 a year, or the equivalent of $4.75 a month due to the increase. The effect to the district, Murry said, would be the funding of a project estimated to cost about $40 million.

“If I didn’t believe in the general spirit of this community, we wouldn’t suggest it. There are those who will not, though,” Murry said. “I certainly understand that position as well. Some will not support a tax increase of any kind.”

Murry said the board will vote in July to officiate the requested increase to be put to voters. If approved, the 30-year millage will go into effect in the 2011 tax year.

The last approved millage increase in the district, in the amount of 4 mills, was in 2004.

The increase funded construction of Conway High School-East, Simon Intermediate and Wampus Cat Arena.

With the proposed increase, Conway School District holds the lowest position in millage rates for the county.
“Our patrons, in comparison, are paying much less than most districts. We are certainly not asking for a large increase here,” Murry said.

Murry said the district also holds the position of lowest rate among large, 7A schools in the state.

“We’ll allow voters to exercise democracy in September,” Murry said. “We’re getting the message out, about the importance of this to our patrons, for the school and to the students, in making sure the project is funded,” Murry said.

If the increase is not approved, Murry said he and the board will meet with parents and patrons to arrive at a new plan.
“Based on the feedback we receive, we will go forward, or not go forward,” Murry said. “We’ll listen very closely to why people may not have voted for the millage. But I do believe there’s a strong belief in this city in providing quality education for our students.”
Murry said he believes Conway residents understand that the Conway High School-West campus, while it is safe and orderly, it is not adequate for what Conway students deserve.

For more information on Conway School District’s construction plans, click on the “2012” link on the district’s Web site, www.conwayschools.org.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)