Rome City Commissioners approved the backing of bonds that will pay for a new Rome Middle School.

The new school, which will feature grades 6-6, will be erected on property across from the current school on Veterans Memorial Highway.

The vote on the over $103 million project was unanimous.

According to Commissioner Mark Cochran, “We would like the bond issue to maximize the principal to be paid off in five years during ELOST VI,… We understand the first five years there will be a reasonable amount of excess SPLOST each year for other board of education capital needs. In years six through twenty, the debt service, principal and interest, will be level. The plan will be to seek voter approval of ELOST, as necessary, to fully fund the project.”

 If a new ELOST is not passed when the current one expires, property taxes could go up to as much as 6 mills.

The creation of the new middle school is also expected to help ease the number of students at elementary school by removing the 6th grade.

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Rome City Commissioners will have a tough decision to make regarding the future of the proposed new Rome Middle School.  At its meeting on Tuesday, Commissioners presented a vote on the issuance of over $100 million in security bonds.

The amount nearly doubled from the initial $54 million from the original price tag.

Commissioners questioned the risk to taxpayers if the bonds are approved.

One proposal calls for the bonds to be backed for 20 years of ELOST funds. If an ELOST is not passed then city commissioners would raise property taxes by 5 to 6 mills.

Commissioner Craig McDaniel is quoted to say that he was confused on how the price tag for the new school went from $54 million to $119 million.

Commissioners stated that one of their biggest fears was that committing to a 20 year-bond for the new school building could create future problems with the school system if other projects are needed.

A second proposal by Commissioner Mark Cochran had the possibility of splitting the bonds up. The first bond would be paid over the first five years using the ELOST funds that that will begin this spring, plus $17 million in capital outlay funds the school system received for taking the current middle school facility offline. Cochran added that by paying the bonds back in 15 years the amount of interest paid would be decreased.

The next discussion will be during Monday’s Rome City Commission caucus, which will begin early at 4 p.m. at city hall.