School storm shelter bond causes storm clouds over Oklahoma Capitol
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin announced her support of House Joint Resolution 1092, a constitutional amendment allowing school districts to increase bonds to build storm shelters and safe rooms in their schools.
Governor Fallin’s Communications Director Alex Weintz said “This is a decision that helps schools locally meet their needs and make safety upgrades if that’s what they want to do and that’s what their community votes to do.”
First, each individual school needs to evaluate their own current safety needs.
Second, they will pay for any upgrades using the extra money. The money would come from a small increase in property taxes for people in the school district.
“That money is going to either come from state government, which tax payers fund, or local governments, which taxpayers fund.” Weintz said.
Many worry that some communities, especially Moore, wouldn’t be able to handle the financial strain.
Danni Legg lost her son, Christopher, in Plaza Towers. She has been fighting ever since for the safety of children.
Legg said “The citizens economically are fragile at this time and to demand a property increase in taxes is just unheard of. It’s like insult to injury.”
Legg also worries if the decision to pass an extra bond is left up to the school district, kids will never see those much-needed shelters.
“I’m very disappointed that it’s taken her over 8 months and this is the best she can do.” Legg said.
Governor Fallin believes letting local school districts decide for themselves is the best way.
“We believe that we have a way that’s realistic, that identifies proper revenue streams and that’ll help get this done.” Weintz said.
This proposal must be passed by the legislature before citizens can vote on it in the November election.
If approved, the language of the proposal states that school districts would be authorized to acquire indebtedness for the construction of storm/safety shelters. The maximum length of the bond note could not exceed 25 years and would not be based on the taxable value of the school district – it would be separate from other general debt obligations of a district.