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NEWS: Politics

School Shelters Cost More In Property Taxes

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Since the House passed Bill 1092, the only option seems that the districts will pay, if they so choose. Since the House passed Bill 1092, the only option seems that the districts will pay, if they so choose.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Oklahomans will pay more in property taxes for school shelters. That's the basis of a house bill that puts the decision to build on the Districts. Now, the Governor's office has released numbers that puts an exact amount on the cost.

The question has been: Should the state or the districts pay for school storm shelters?

Since the House passed Bill 1092, the only option seems that the districts will pay, if they so choose.

"And that's just not right," Moore mom Danni Legg said.

Legg had hopes of certainty.

"I felt there were shelters going in to every school district," said Legg. "With this plan, there is no certainty."

Legg lost her son on May 20, 2013 in Plaza Towers. She's since fought for the state to pay for storm shelters in schools, but that's not the plan passed by the House.

3/13/2014 Related Story: School Shelter Initiative Approved By Oklahoma House

"It infuriates me," said Legg. "It doesn't just scare me, it infuriates me."

Waiting in the Senate is a one-time bonding capacity increase. So school districts can vote and, if passed, pay for shelters through property tax.

"It puts undo pressure on the citizens who are living paycheck to paycheck," Representative Joe Dorman said.

That's a price Putnam City resident Harry Skida is willing to pay.

"The money is going to have to come from somewhere," Skida said.

Skida owns a shop in Putnam City, a district included in a recent calculation scenario released by the Governor's office.

If Putnam City were to pass a $24 Million bond to fund school safety upgrades, the cost for a $100,000 homeowner would be just under $30 per year.

"That seems reasonable to me," Skida said.

Putnam City schools is not the only scenario on the chart showing the cost variations depending on the district. Duncan residents would pay around $43 per year and Alva residents, almost $60 per year.

"I'd vote for it," said Skida. "I would, and I don't even have kids in the school anymore but I still know they're our future."

In a written statement, Governor Fallin's office said in part, we believe many communities will find those to be a reasonable prices for school safety.

Those numbers are based on a 10-year bond repayment plan and were calculated under the assumption that each school district pursues $750,000 in safety upgrades.

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