WEST FARGO – If West Fargo School District voters approve a $106.9 million bond referendum in September, homeowners can expect an increase of roughly $15 per year, per $100,000 in home value on their property tax bills starting in 2019.
On Monday, June 11, Superintendent David Flowers said the ballot referendum will ask voters to increase the district mill levy of 44.9 mills by 16.4 mills.
However, the levy would not actually go up that much due to debt the district will be paying off, plus an increase in new building and property values. Instead, the district expects the levy would increase by only 3.51 mills and that the mill levy would still continue to decline.
“The actual net increase to the homeowner would be $15.79 per $100,000 of home value. This is a heavy debt – it’s $106.9 million, and the taxpayers will pay for it over a 20-year period,” Flowers said.
Last month, the West Fargo School Board unanimously OK’d holding a special election on Sept. 25 that will ask residents to vote on the $106.9 million bond referendum that would pay for:
- $88.5 million: New middle school with a capacity of 800 students and high school with a capacity of 1,000 students
- $3 million: Harwood gym addition and a secure entrance
- $3 million: Installation of artificial fields at all three high schools
- $1.525 million: Elementary art and gifted classrooms at elementary schools that do not have them
- $2 million: General security upgrades such as camera systems and remodeled entrances
- $2.1 million: Secured entrances at elementary schools that do not have them
- $6.8 million: Horace to become a four-track school, or four classes for each grade
The buildings would help support the district’s rapid growth. It’s expected to continue to grow between 400 and 600 students each year for the next 10 years. Sheyenne High School and West Fargo High School will be over the combined capacity of 3,100 by 2021. Liberty Middle School is expected to be at capacity by the fall, with Cheney Middle School soon to follow.
In 2015, voters overwhelmingly approved a $98.1 million bond that helped pay for three new elementary schools, additions to West Fargo High School and other buildings as well as a new hockey arena and aquatic center.
“In the 2015 bond referendum, it was recognized at that time that we should have bonded for about $200 million,” said board member Allan Skramstad. The board accepted “that $200 million would be a really heavy lift, so we decided to put that extra off until a later date. The later date has come, we need new facilities.”
Flowers said the bond sales would be done in four installments over 20 years if the referendum passes. Business Manager Mark Lemer said the installment plan means taxpayers would not see the full $15.79 increase until about 2021.