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'We’re not raising taxes,' DC West leaders pushing bond issue

Posted at 6:16 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 19:16:46-04

VALLEY, Neb. (KMTV) — The needs are obvious in Western Douglas County.

DC West, the school district that incorporates Valley, Waterloo and the surrounding area, is making do with what it has.

Currently, band, theater, choir and speech students are forced to perform in the gym, instead of an auditorium.

It also has a growing student body, going up 20% in the last seven years.

“We really are running out of classroom space," said Superintendent, Melissa Poloncic.

Poloncic wants to add classrooms to the middle school, build an auditorium, upgrade the softball complex, renovate locker and weight rooms, as well as improve some of the outdated and non-compliant locker rooms, among other improvements.

“To not have to turn non-traditional classroom spaces into classroom spaces, we really do need that addition,” said Poloncic.

Poloncic, along with the school board, are asking voters to pass a $16.8 million bond issue.

But, bond issues haven’t always been popular in the community, with voters rejecting multiple in the past decade.

But unlike the others, this one doesn’t raise taxes.

“We’re not raising taxes in any capacity,” said Polonic.

If the bond passes, the district would simply move property tax dollars from the general and special building fund, into the bond fund.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” said Cindy Grove, mayor of Valley.

Grove will be voting yes on the bond.

The community she oversees is also growing, likely going from 1,800 to over 3,000 residents from 2010 to 2020, but she says many in town, including those that have recently moved in, are older with grown-up children, therefore they may have been hesitant to raise their tax bill in the past.

“It’s hard for them to want to vote to raise property taxes when it won’t benefit them,” said Grove.

Voters might be more willing since the district managed to lower taxes this past year, due to extra taxable revenue. Poloncic believes now is the time for a bond.

“Being able to do this work and ask for this but not extending our taxpayers for more money was really just a perfect opportunity,” said Poloncic.

After the last bond issue failed, the district was still able to build and open up a new elementary school just two years ago. To do that, they were able to find a creative funding solution to work around the lack of a bond.

For this next set of additions and renovations, they say need the bond issue.

“We have the funds available, we just have to be able to use them,” said Poloncic.

Read more: Valley middle school/HS bond ballots being mailed on Monday