Construction Updates

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Thank you, Umatilla Voters!

Bond Overview

Why propose a bond? Why now?

In 2016, voters passed a bond to renovate Clara Brownell Middle School and update systems, replace roofing, and provide secure entry vestibules in each building. The estimated cost to voters upon approval was $3.133 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Due to the growth in the community since 2016, voters are currently paying $0.93 per $1,000 of assessed property value for school related bonds instead of the previously passed $3.133 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Community growth allowed for the reduction in costs to individual tax payers; however, it also has an impact on schools as more students are enrolling and expected to enroll.

The City of Umatilla estimates another 1,500 homes will be built in Umatilla over the next ten years, resulting in an estimated student increase of 500 students. Our current schools lack the capacity to serve this growth without new construction.

The proposed bond will fund construction of the facility to prepare for the growth while also using the increased tax revenue from the expected community growth to drive down the cost per thousand of assessed property value for each taxpayer over time.

How was this plan developed?

A facility review was conducted by an outside agency to assess school district facilities, and a community group created a long-term facility plan for the District. They worked to develop a plan to address the current facilities and growth expectations based on City of Umatilla housing growth estimates. The full plan is available from the Umatilla District Office.

How will the public be informed of progress?

The Umatilla School District will report progress on bond projects monthly to citizens as part of the regular school board meetings and would also provide periodic mailings and web updates with construction and renovation updates.

What would the proposed bond do?

The $47.1 million bond funds would be increased with a $4 million grant from the Oregon School Facility Matching grant to provide:

  • A new 4-6 school building on South Hill including a full-sized gym and playing fields with room for expansion,

  • Renovations to convert McNary Heights Elementary to a K-3 building,

  • A new Career Technical Education building at Umatilla High School with room for expansion,

  • Renovations to the current shop space at Umatilla High to convert it into elective and classroom spaces for Clara Brownell Middle School,

  • Transition of Clara Brownell Middle School to a 7-8 building, and

  • Site projects, demolition, furnishings, equipment and bond issuance costs.

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Intermediate Site Plan

What are the detailed costs?

On May 24th, 2023, the District sold it bonds. Thanks to a strong credit rating and favorable market conditions, the $45.2 million general obligation bond was sold at a premium and we received nearly $2 million in additional funds at no cost to taxpayers. The $47.1 million bond funds are being paired with a $4 million grant from the State of Oregon and $2.4 million in seismic grant funds.

$47.1 million general obligation bond + $4 million matching grant + 2.4 million seismic grant funds = $53.5 million for bond projects

What will the bond cost tax payers?

Throughout the bond sale and pricing process, we aimed to provide the best possible value to Umatilla tax payers. Though we advertised an increase of $1.19/thousand resulting in a total bond levy amount of $2.12/thousand, we were able to obtain bond funds that are payable over 30 years with an all-in true interest cost of 4.75%. Debt service on the bonds was structured to be supported by a bond levy rate increase of $0.65 per $1,000 of assessed value leading to a total District bond (for old and new bonds) levy rate of $1.77/1000. 

The City of Umatilla’s agreement for the new Amazon facilities requires them to make payments toward the bond. Beginning in the 2024 tax year, the District anticipates the bond levy rate to decrease based on payments from Amazon to help cover the new bond’s debt payments. These payments from Amazon are expected to increase substantially over the next several years leading to a significant decrease of the bond levy for other District taxpayers from the initial $0.65 increase.

For more information, please contact:

Heidi Sipe, Superintendent
Umatilla School District