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Milford Beacon
  • Governor’s recommended state budget includes funding for Milford Middle rebuild project

  • The Milford School District confirmed this week that its request to demolish and rebuild the Milford Middle School has been included in the governor’s recommended state budget.
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    • BY THE NUMBERS
      TOTAL PROJECT COST $44,614,900

      STATE SHARE $31,676,600

      LOCAL SHARE $12,938,300

      ESTIMATED TAX INCREASE (Expressed as a change from prior year)

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      BY THE NUMBERS
      TOTAL PROJECT COST $44,614,900
      STATE SHARE $31,676,600
      LOCAL SHARE $12,938,300
      ESTIMATED TAX INCREASE (Expressed as a change from prior year)
      FY 2015: $1.82 per $50,000 of assessed home value
      FY 2016: $14.78 per $50,000 of assessed home value
      FY 2017: $1.33 per $50,000 of assessed home value
      REFERENDUM DATE March 26
      SOURCE: Milford Middle School
  • The Milford School District confirmed this week that its request to demolish and rebuild the Milford Middle School has been included in the governor’s recommended state budget.
    According to Gov. Jack Markell’s recommended budget provided by the Delaware Office of Management & Budget, $2,980,500 in state funding has been allotted in Fiscal Year 2015, with additional funding requested for FY 2016 and FY 2017. If approved in the 2015 budget bill, the state would fund 71 percent of the total projected cost of the demolition of the current Milford Middle School and a rebuild at the same site. The remaining 29 percent, $12,938,300, will be funded by local tax revenue.
    Milford School District is proposing a tax increase to be spread over a three-year period as the district receives the funds in three different phases, explained Milford School District Superintendent Phyllis Kohel. The second year will see the heaviest tax hike as actual construction begins.
    The Milford School District has provided a break-down of estimated tax increases in increments of $50,000 for assessed home values.
    If approved by the district’s taxpayers, school taxes would increase by $1.82 per $50,000 of the assessed home value in FY 2015. Taxpayers would see an additional increase of $14.78 in FY 2016, and then an additional increase of $1.33 in FY 2017.
    In addition to the tax hike required to fund the demolition and rebuild of the Milford Middle School, the district is also asking residents to support a tax increase to supplement a $2.1 million operating budget, which, if approved, district officials say would increase the average homeowner’s school taxes by $94.36 yearly, in addition to the tax increases solicited by the middle school project.
    The Milford Middle School building, which was originally built as a high school, has been recognized for its history, but is in dire need of infrastructure repairs. The extent of repairs needed brought the Board of Education to the decision that a demolition and rebuild project would be more cost-effective and better to meet the needs of the growing school district.
    The district’s budget request estimates the demolition and rebuild of the school will be a three-year project, with the estimated date of occupancy in 2018. The new building, which is proposed for the same location, is expected to be 143,959 square feet. The current 84-year-old building is 147,619 square feet.
    Emotions are mixed regarding the board’s decision to demolish and rebuild the school, but the ultimate decision will be made by taxpayers within the Milford School District during a referendum scheduled for March 26.
    Milford resident and parent Pam Marcelle said she supports the decision to demolish and rebuild the middle school, seeing it as a need within the district.
    “We need another school,” Marcelle said. “The overcrowding at the other schools, everybody’s feeling it. I’m totally on board with that.”
    Page 2 of 2 - However, some, like Milford resident Kelly Lynch, are concerned that history will be lost if the building is demolished.
    Lynch said that she attended Milford Middle School, as well as her oldest son, grandfather-in-law and other family members, and that she will be sad if the school is torn down.
    “It’s sad that they can’t fix it,” she said. “We have a lot of memories there.  It’s sad they can’t take that money to repair it.”
    District officials are encouraging residents to attend community meetings to held periodically up to less than a week before the vote. These meetings will provide additional details of the project, and will allow district residents to voice their opinions and ask questions.
    “There would be no referendum if it was not supported by the state, and we’re very appreciative of that,” said Milford School District Superintendent Phyllis Kohel. “That means that we start moving forward with preparing notification of bids. We will also have some community meetings where people can come and listen to the presentation and ask questions if need be.”
    Kohel also pointed out that senior citizens concerned with the tax increases may be eligible for the Senior School Property Tax Relief Program, which makes homeowners age 65 or older eligible for a tax credit up to $500. Kohel said those interested in applying for the program can visit the district office at 906 Lakeview Avenue, Milford, for assistance with the application.
    The next public meeting to discuss the impending referendum and the Milford Middle School project will be held at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 20 at Milford Central Academy.
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