Early voting for the Hamburg School District’s proposal to increase its millage rate from 35.5 mills to 39.5 mills opened Tuesday.

The proposed 4-mills would raise an estimated $438,980 a year, allowing the HSD to issue up to $7.8 million in bonds to pay for constructing and equipping new school facilities and making additions and improvements to existing school facilities.

At the polls, a for vote is cast in favor of increasing the Hamburg School District property tax rate by 4 mills, from 35.5 mills to 39.5 mills, and issuing up to $7.8 million in bonds to pay for building and equipping new school facilities and making additions and improvements to existing school facilities.

An against vote means the voter is not in favor of increasing the millage.

At a December public hearing about the proposal, district officials said the $7.8 million bond issue would be used for improvements to all of the buildings in the district with the majority of the improvements made at the Hamburg High School Campus, though other schools are included.

Approximately $1,500,000 of the bonds would be used to create a space for an Alternative Learning Environment classroom, an art room, two regular classrooms, and bathrooms in an area that connects the south end of the high school with the old agricultural building. Portable classroom buildings that are currently in use would be removed.

Another $1,100,000 will fund the expansion and remodeling of the auditorium; $174,370 will be used for new heating, ventilation and air conditioning for the cafeteria and kitchen, and air conditioning for the dressing rooms and concession area.

Proposed Improvements to the athletic area of the HHS campus include $446,000 to refurbish the current track; $1,150,000 to build a baseball field, soccer field, parking lot, concessions and bathrooms on property off of Byrd Industrial Drive in Hamburg; $800,000 to convert the current football field into a turf field and $300,000 to build an indoor facility with bathrooms, storage rooms, water fountains and dressing rooms for female softball and soccer athletes.

Other proposed improvements around the district include:

-Remodeling the bathrooms at Hamburg Middle School for $197,600.

-$600,000 to remodel the gym and concession area at the Portland Elementary School Campus and to build a covered walkway to main building.

-$344,500 to remodel bathrooms in the Noble building of the Noble/Allbritton Campus, and $265,000 to connect the Marilyn Chambers Building to the main building.

If approved by voters, revenue from the 4-mill increase would be combined with revenue from an existing 10.5 mills previously approved by voters for debt tied to improvement projects.

The combined tax revenue would be used to repay existing bond debt along with the $7.8 million in bonds sold to pay for the new proposed upgrades and remodels with any annual surplus revenue collected to be used for other school purposes.

A millage is a tax rate the county applies to the assessed value of a property - including real, personal and utility property – to determine a dollar amount for each tax payer.

The assessed value of a mill equals 20 percent of a property’s appraised value. One mill equals $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.

According to the tax collector’s website, a home valued at $100,000 would be assessed by the county at $20,000 therefore, the homeowner would pay $20 per mill which would equal $710 at the current rate of 35.5 mills. A four-mill increase would cost that property owner an additional $80 a year, if the increase is approved. Likewise, for a property valued at $200,000, the proposed increase would cost a property owner an additional $160 a year.

State law requires school districts in Arkansas to charge a minimum 25-mill property tax on all taxable property within the district. Districts also have the ability to raise the rates on the assessed value of taxable real, personal, and utility property, but the increases must be approved by voters.

The Hamburg School District School Board recently voted to put the millage proposal on the ballot as a way to generate more money for construction and other projects which were identified to the public in a public hearing earlier this year.

Any registered voter who lives within the Hamburg School District may vote in the school millage election.

The election is May 21. Early voting is available May 14 to 17, and May 20 at the Ashley County Courthouse, which is located at 215 E. Jefferson St. in Hamburg.

For more information about Election Day voting, contact the county clerk at 870-853-2020.

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