ENTERPRISE — The Wallowa County Circuit Court on Monday, Aug. 31, denied a petition that might have delayed filing a revised bond measure for the Enterprise School District until after the Friday, Sept. 4, deadline to submit it for the Nov. 3 election.
Delaying the bond measure on the ballot could mean the loss of the state’s $4 million match, Enterprise District Superintendent Erika Pinkerton said.
“I’m so pleased with the decision of Judge Williams,’” she said. “I’m happy we can use our ballot measure without any changes.”
For more than a year, the Enterprise School Board has worked on a planned bond measure to repair and improve the school facilities, including replacing a leaking roof, upgrading outdated science labs and improving security and accessibility of school buildings.
The petition was filed Aug. 28, by petitioners Edward Kilner, Bret Murphy and Daniel Paul, all of whom reside in the district. They were represented by Enterprise attorney Benjamin Boyd.
Their petition argued that the ballot title, “Bond to replace roof, increase accessibility, improve safety and security,” failed to comply with the mandatory requirements by not specifically mentioning that the passage of a bond measure would raise property taxes for residents of the district. The petition asked for a declaratory judgment enjoining the school district from submitting final ballot title.
The district’s attorney, Jeffrey G. Condit of Miller Nash LLP of Portland, argued that the title of the bond described the actions that would result from its passage, as required by state law. He also argued that the passage of the bond measure would not necessarily raise district residents’ property taxes, as the overall tax rate is determined by multiple factors, not any single factor, including the addition of a bond.
Since the decision on the ballot title cannot be appealed, according to Boyd, the district’s bond measure will be on the November ballot.
The measure would generate a $4 million bond measure, payable over 15 years at an estimated tax rate of $1.04 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the first 10 years, dropping to 54 cents per $1,000 for the last five years.
If passed in November, the bond would be matched by $4 million from the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching fund, which has been kept safe from other budget cuts driven by the COVID-19-related plummet in state tax revenues. The grant would double the funds available for school improvements, Pinkerton said.
If approved, the bond measure would fund a new roof to replace leaking roofs on the middle school building, modernize science labs, bring handicapped access up to Americans with Disability Act standards, improve the safety and security of school buildings, abate asbestos, improve the heating system and make other repairs and improvements to the buildings.