Hamburg voters approve school tax increase

A voter casts her ballot at the precinct at Hamburg Methodist Church Tuesday. At the close of polls, voters had approved a 4-mill ad valorem tax for school improvement.

Approximately 60 percent of voters in the Hamburg School District voted to approve a 4-mill ad valorem increase for up to $7.8 million in school improvements.

In unofficial results, 296 voters were in favor of the measure and 200 were against.

The proposed improvements, which were placed on the regular school board election ballot, were first presented at a public hearing in December.

After Election Commissioner Terry McDermot announced the unofficial results, the approximately two dozen people waiting in the Ashley County courthouse foyer applauded and congratulated school district officials.

Hamburg Schools Superintendent Tracy Streeter said she was “super excited” about the results, and thanked the voters for their approval and those who worked to get the word out about the election.

“This gives us an opportunity to make improvements at every campus,” she said.

Hamburg is not a wealthy school district, she said, and “we hold onto our school with both hands and a big heart.

“I think this is a great reflection of the community support for the district and for the education we provide.

The superintendent said her first call Tuesday night would be to Stephens, Inc., the district’s financial advisors.

“It gets complex from this point,” she said, saying that the timeline for the project would ultimately come through Stephens because, “so much of this process has to be processed through them.”

At the polls Tuesday, a vote cast for the measure was 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 meant the voter was not in favor of increasing the millage.

Breaking down the ballots by precinct, in early votes, 110 were for and 84 were against; at the First United Methodist Church precinct, 142 were for and 68 against; at the Fountain Hill Methodist Church precinct, 10 were for and 27 against; at the Portland precinct, 27 were for and 13 were against; at the Wilmot precinct, six were for and seven against; and one provisional ballot was cast in favor of the measure.

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 $1.5 million 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 $1.1 million 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; approximately $600,000 to remodel the gym and concession area at the Portland Elementary School Campus and to build a covered walkway to main building; and $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.

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