Long commended for Waltham school construction measure
A bill to allow Waltham School District to extend its debt limit for the construction of a new facility passed the House thanks to the persistence of Rep. Jerry Lee Long (R-Streator).
SB1290, which passed 75-28 with bipartisan support, will allow Waltham Community Consolidated School District 185 to increase its debt limit to $9.5 million from $3.8 million to pay for a new school to house its K-6 and seventh to eighth grades. The bill will save taxpayers money, Long said.
“Building a new facility will save the taxpayers nearly $4 million in tax increases (that would be used) to pay for the much-needed repairs on the 50-year-old and 67-year-old buildings,” Long said. “By incorporating House Floor Amendment No. 2, we have made sure that Waltham cannot increase taxes to pay for these debts and have made it contingent upon the three TIFs (tax-increment financing districts) that they have an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with.”
The amendment binds the school board into an IGA with the city of LaSalle.
State Rep. John Cavaletto (R-Salem) called the bill a smart and efficient way to save taxpayer money and combine schools.
“I think these kids deserve a new school,” Cavaletto said. “You have the revenue to do it. Your consolidation will save money in the long run and give them a good education. I would ask for an 'aye' vote for this gentleman.”
While some representatives expressed uncertainty about provisions such as the TIFs and the drastic increase in a credit line, many others – such as Cavaletto and Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) -- complimented the bill, the school district and Long’s work.
Ives especially commended the school district’s superintendent, Kristine Eager, for working to consolidate the school, ensuring that the district has zero debt and taxpayers won't pay more.
“This is a very unique financing way that this superintendent has come up with," she said. "If in the past, you have voted to extend debt limits up to 25-30 years, add to the property tax toll, and you voted against this bill? That would be a vote that would not make sense."