Hermiston residents will see a tax break after Hermiston School District made a final payment toward all bond debt incurred prior to 2008 last month.
The district expects school bond property tax rates to decrease by an estimated 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for area homeowners. Its general fund property tax will stay at $4.87 per $1,000.
“I think obviously this isn’t something that happened overnight. It’s the result of the district taking financial responsibility very seriously,” Superintendent Tricia Mooney said.
In 1999, $39.9 million in bonds were approved to fund expansions and remodeling. In 2004, the district refinanced the bonds to shave off almost $1.6 million dollars for taxpayers and lower the interest rate.
Not all of the district’s bonds were paid off — another bond for $69.9 million which was approved in 2008 helped to replace West Park and Sunset elementary schools and Armand Larive Middle School. The pay-off dates for those bonds are June 2026 and June 2029.
Voters rejected a bid for a $104 million bond in 2017 that would have built a new elementary school off Theater Lane, replaced Highland Hills and Rocky Heights elementary schools with new buildings and expanded the high school. The district’s Facility Planning Committee has been studying options for smaller bonds.
“Our elementary schools, middle schools, and Hermiston High School have continued to see rapid growth in the number of students we serve, and we expect this growth to continue into the future,” Mooney said.
She stated that bond funding has allowed the school district to address the need for increasing capacity.
According to a report from the Facility Planning Committee on the HSD website, HSD is projected to exceed overall capacity next year and increase 9.2% by the 2022-2023 school year.
The increase is expected to require additional modular classrooms for students.
“We take seriously our financial obligations to pay bonds off on-time and clear debt off our books,” Mooney said in a statement. “Thank you to the voters who have supported our students and school district over the years.”
The next HSD board meeting will take place Monday, July 8 at 6:30 p.m at the district offices, 305 SW 11th St.