Millard school board members voted 6-0 Monday to put a $125 million bond issue on the May 12 primary ballot.

And a familiar tax watchdog group has already weighed in — with support.

You heard that right.

Doug Kagan, president of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, told the board that his group typically doesn’t support bond issues.

But he said that after examining the spending plan, his group found it “both practical and necessary.”

The money from the bond issue would primarily pay for renovating and repairing aging buildings but would also be used for safety, security and energy efficiency projects.

District officials say passage would bring about a 1-cent increase in the property tax levy — a $20 annual hike for a $200,000 house.

Board President Linda Poole said the watchdog group’s support “speaks volumes.”

Several other people spoke to the board, voicing support for the bond issue.

Before the vote, board members said they have kept an eye on district spending, making good on a promise not to use the entire 9-cent levy override authority that voters granted them in 2017.

They said maintaining the district’s buildings avoids catastrophic failure and high repair costs later on. Maintaining buildings also helps keep property values up, they said.

Board member Mike Pate said the district’s buildings hold $750 million in real estate value, which is subject to daily wear and tear.

“If you don’t take care of your facilities, eventually it will catch up to you,” he said.

Board member Mike Kennedy said that while politics divides the country nationally, the bond issue is something the local community can get behind.

He said the project list was whittled down to the essentials.

“It’s about needs over wants, and we’ve worked very hard on this,” Kennedy said.

Officials say the expenditures would be spread across the district’s buildings, but four schools are targeted for multimillion-dollar upgrades.

The district would spend $53.4 million on major renovations, $45.5 million on summer maintenance projects, $9 million on safety and security, and the rest on energy-efficiency projects and replacing furniture and capital equipment.

The most costly project would be $14.5 million in renovation and repairs at Central Middle School. The school built in 1960 would get a major overhaul: everything from windows, flooring and cabinets to lighting and heating systems.

Two elementary schools built in 1964, Cody and Norris, would see renovations and repairs of $8 million and $6.8 million, respectively.

Millard South High School would get a more secure vestibule-type entrance, similar to the one at Millard North, as part of $7.3 million in repairs and renovations.

In all, 22 schools would see improvements of at least $750,000 each.

Poole said informational meetings on the bond issue will be scheduled at the high schools and middle schools this winter and spring.

joe.dejka@owh.com, 402-444-1077

Joe covers education for The World-Herald, focusing on pre-kindergarten through high school. Phone: 402-444-1077.

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