Voters will have the final say on May 16 as to whether the Sunnyside School District will have a $3.95 million athletic facility by next year.
Dr. Rick Cole, district superintendent, brought the latest bond facts to the Noon Rotary Club's luncheon yesterday.
The good news was two-fold.
Cole said a million dollars has been pared off the original proposal for the outdoor facility and three items have already been bid by the state, which not only saved dollars, but could see the Sunnyside facility "up and in operation by the start of the next football and soccer season," according to Cole.
The bid items were the bleachers to accommodate fans of the football, soccer and track squads, the field-turf and lighting.
"Hundreds of thousands of dollars were saved (in that low bid process)," Cole said.
The reduction in the amount of the bond proposal was helped along by the district's decision to reduce bleacher seating from 5,000 seats to 3,750.
The quality facility being considered could, potentially, draw 10 to 12 events from outside the district a year, Cole said, because of its central location.
"Anything from B League through AAA could be accommodated," agreed Bill Daley, athletic director for the Sunnyside School District, "but I don't see it housing AAAA football (crowds)."
Bleachers that are about 48 years old are the moving force for considering a new athletic facility.
"They are in need of repair and the decision was made to replace, not repair, them. It would cost about a million dollars to replace the existing bleachers," said Cole.
All of the voting in the May 16 bond election will be by mail only. Ballots will be mailed to voters on April 26.
Those who aren't yet registered to vote may do so by mail until April 15 or in person by visiting the Yakima County Auditor's Office through May 1.
If the $3.95 million bond proposal passes, the cost to a taxpayer would be 28 cents per thousand of property valuation, which means a homeowner with a $100,000 home would pay $28 more in taxes each year.
The current tax rate is $1.46 per $1,000, the second lowest tax rate in Yakima County. Even with the increase to $1.74 per $1,000, it would still be the second lowest in the county.
"No academic funds will be used for the construction of this facility," Cole promised.
The $3.95 million bond is intended to cover the cost of construction of the facility, but the district is holding a million dollars in its capital project fund that could be used if a construction bid exceeds the amount generated by the bond, according to Dave Plesha, executive director of business for the school district.
If the bond passes, the athletic/PE facility improvements will include the 3,750-seat bleacher system, resurfacing of the existing track, installation of a football/soccer field-turf system, relocation of the varsity baseball field, a stadium announcing booth with a public address system and scoreboards, a baseball announcing booth with a public address system, scoreboards and bleachers, locker rooms, restrooms, storage, utilities and concessions.
The bond would also provide for lighted grounds and pathways, fencing and pedestrian control, parking, curb and gutter, storm drainage and hard surface concrete paving and an increased area for PE and health classes.
If the bond issue does not pass, Cole said, "We would have to go back to the school board and look at the options. There is no plan at this time, if it doesn't pass."
Sixty percent of those who vote on May 16 must vote yes in order for the $3.95 million bond to pass.