A new Auburn High School became one step closer to reality after votes approved a $78 million bond issue from Auburn’s 5-mill fund Tuesday, April 28.
Voters approved the bond issue by an 85 percent margin with the vote total 2,427 in favor and 428 against.
The voter turnout was higher than the turnout for the last two 5-mill referendums in 2009 and 2012. A 2009 vote to use the 5-mill fund for infrastructure and fire protection improvements had 612 voters total, and a 2012 vote for the construction of Harris Center and renovations to the Frank Brown Center and Gay Street parking lot had 1,274, according to David Dorton, director of Public Affairs for Auburn.
Tuesday’s vote brought out 2,675 voters to the polls.
Auburn City Schools Superintendent Karen Delano said she was excited about the results.
“We’re very thankful that the City Council would reallocate these funds for this purpose,” Delano said. “It’s just extra special that the citizens have overwhelmingly given their approval for the project.”
Mayor Bill Ham said his initial reaction to the vote was “very happy.”
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time, and the need for a new high school, repairs to the other schools,” Ham said.
Ham said he was concerned with the fact that the 5-mill fund was not a new tax would not translate to voters, but the results of the vote put those concerns to rest.
“Obviously, people understood the need and understood what this 5-mill fund was going to be used for,” Ham said. “It represents currently about $3.8 million annually that will be one piece of the puzzle that will go to reducing the indebtedness borrowed from the schools.”
Delano said she was also pleased with the high turnout for the special election.
“We intend to be good stewards of this money, and we’ll continue to put things in the paper, and on our website and other types of media to make sure that (the public) will see that we’re being truthful and honest.”
Ham said turnout is always a concern on a single-issue referendum, but he thanked the voters for coming out to support the schools.
“The 5-mill tax, traditionally, has had very good success, but this is the first time we’ve ever asked the voters to utilize it for educational purposes,” Ham said.
Delano said the next step is to allow contractors to bid for the construction of the new school to allow construction to begin in this summer.
“We’re on a very tight timeline to get in by August of 2017, so it’s very important that we make all of our timelines,” Delano said.
The old high school will become the new junior high school, and the current junior high will become a single grade school for 7th graders, according to Ham.
The new high school will be located in a lot between East University Drive, Glenn and Samford Avenues.
“I’m happy most of all for the youth of our community,” Ham said. “They’re going to have a place to continue to excel and learn, a new high school and some rehab to our other schools. So a great day for our community.”
Ham said the new school is an absolute necessity for Auburn.
“We can all draw a sigh of relief that the voters have spoken, and we can continue to move forward and get ready to build this new high school,” Ham Said
Results for Auburn's municipal bond issue:
|Ward||For Bond Issue||Against Bond Issue|
|Wards 3 & 4||370||61|
|Wards 5 & 6||824||161|
|Wards 7 & 8||637||107|