By Clay Coleman
VANDALIA—On Tuesday, June 2, Audrain County will try again and go to the polls after the COVID-19 pandemic raced its way through Missouri postponing voting last April.
On the ballot are elections for city mayor, alderman seats in all three wards, a vote on a local use tax for online purchases, and Vandalia, and Farber residents will vote on Project Indians, a no-tax-increase bond issue for Van-Far School District, earmarking $1.5 million for repair work.
“The Project Indians bond issue will allow the district to fund much-needed repairs to our elementary school parking lot and upgrades to the high school,” said Van-Far School District Superintendent Tony DeGrave. “Our taxpayers will not see an increase in property taxes if this passes.”
Under Missouri law, school districts can only borrow money for facility improvements or construction by issuing general obligation bonds. With the current levy at $0.6109 to pay back existing bonds by the end of 2030, DeGrave said that by restructuring their bond portfolio, “the current tax rate is enough to repay our existing bonds and the $1.5 million.” The district plans to accomplish this by extending the levy to 2040.
If the Project Indians bond issue is passed on Tuesday, DeGrave said his priority would be the water drainage issues and the construction of a new parking lot at the elementary school.
“Rainwater is backing up into the building and potentially causing mold and humidity issues,” said DeGrave. “The plan is to extend the drainage further out, away from the school. Once that’s complete, then we’ll begin phase two and fix the parking lot.”
After removing the existing parking lot, bus loop, and sidewalks, the elementary school will have a new concrete parking lot with handicap parking, new lighting installed, ADA approved sidewalks and widening of both entrance and exits.
“Before any concrete is poured,” said DeGrave, “we will ensure the structural integrity of the base rock. The new parking lot will have proper drainage.”
The second priority for DeGrave will be upgrades and improvements to the high school rest rooms, locker rooms, athletic field improvements, and LED lighting for both schools.
“Our rest rooms and locker rooms at the high school are old and outdated and don’t meet ADA requirements,” said DeGrave. “Not only are they used by our students daily, but by the community as well.
“The district needs to keep moving forward on facility improvements for the betterment of our students and our community,” DeGrave said. “We appreciate all the continued support from the community.”
If passed on Tuesday, construction could begin as early as next month.