The majority of a divided Hamburg School Board voted Monday to send a four-mill tax increase for district improvements to the voters.

The vote was 4-1-1, with school board members Bryan Hollis voting against and Maggie Ware abstaining.

Though much of the brief discussion about the issue Monday was about including turf for the district’s football field and the possible construction of a soccer practice field in school improvements, the millage in question would be dedicated to a number of school infrastructure improvements included in a $6.1 million proposal Superintendent Tracy Streeter presented to the public in December.

The board had waited to vote on the matter because the members had expressed a desire to meet with their constituencies and discuss it.

Board member Suzanne Singleton said she’d hosted a meeting with members of the public in the Portland community and had a tour of the school and the suggested improvements there.

“They were ready to move ahead,” she said.

Board member Jim Wells said members of the public wanted to express an opinion about the matter at the polls.

“The ones I talked to wanted the decision to vote on it, for it to be on the ballot,” he said. “Our job is to decide what is on the ballot.”

Hollis said he was hesitant to ask for more money considering the district’s current positive fiscal position, saying, “We are educators of children, not hoarders of money.”

“It is hard for me to ask for four mills when we have $5 million in the bank,” he said.

Wells ultimately made the motion to move forward with the request for four mills, which board member Mike Hartley seconded.

If a four-mill increase passes, a property owner whose property is appraised at $100,000 will pay $80 more in taxes. The increase would generate approximately $7.3 million.

The improvement projects discussed at the board’s December special meeting included:

•To connect the free-standing art room to the southern end of Hamburg High School, which would eliminate two portable classrooms and add three classrooms and bathrooms, and would help improve school security.

•To expand the HHS auditorium to 600 seats.

•To replace the heating and air conditioning system in the HHS cafeteria and kitchen.

•To drain an area in the front of HHS that currently retains water year-round.

•Remodeling bathrooms in the front and back halls at Hamburg Middle School.

•Adding air-conditioning to the four main dressing rooms in the gym at HMS.

•Remodeling the gym at Portland Elementary School.

•Replacing an old gas line at PES.

•Remodeling the bathrooms at the Noble Elementary School building.

•Connecting the Marilyn Chambers Building to the first grade end of Noble.

•Other needs discussed included adding plumbing and a training room to the district’s indoor facility, building a $1.15 million ballpark with soccer and baseball fields and refurbishing the HHS track.

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