Governor’s office releases estimates for property tax increase to fund school safety upgrades
OKLAHOMA CITY — The office of Governor Mary Fallin released sample numbers today to give voters an estimate on how much their property taxes could increase if the school shelter and safety measure bill passes the senate.
School districts would then have to propose a bond fitting the bill’s criteria and it would have to pass with a 60 percent approval.
The release of the numbers comes after House Joint Resolution 1092 passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives yesterday. Governor Fallin asked legislatures to pass the measure during her State of the State address.
The bill amends the state constitution allowing school districts to exceed up to 10 percent of its debt limit one time for the purpose of school safety. Under this plan, the money to fund the improvements will come through increased property taxes.
Sample numbers are based on $750,000 worth of safety upgrades. A number chosen because school shelters funded through FEMA grant program usually cost between $500,000 and $1 million.
The bill, written by Rep. Mark McBride (R) Moore and Jon Echols (R) Oklahoma City, does not directly mandate schools put in storm shelters, but is designed to give districts and voters that option.
Currently, about 1,100 schools in the state are not equipped with a school shelter.
According to the bill, the money can be used for “improving school sites, constructing, repairing, remodeling or equipping buildings, or acquiring school furniture, fixtures or equipment.”
Danni Legg, a representative from Take Shelter Oklahoma criticized the bill because it does not guarantee the money will be spent to build shelters.
“Worse yet the plan does not guarantee that if a storm shelter is built, it will meet FEMA standards. So bottom line is nothing in this bill will protect children’s safety.”
Legg lost her son at Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore when an EF-5 tornado stuck May 20. She helped form Take Shelter Oklahoma in hopes of equipping every school in Oklahoma with a storm shelter.
If HJR 1092 passes in the senate the bill will be put on the November 4th general election ballot for Oklahomans to consider.