ROD HALL: Public deserves facts about proposed fine arts center
It's time to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The Daily Republic has a moral duty to inform the public of the real facts about the proposed fine arts center. Readers will get the idea there can be no public vote on that proposal. Joe Graves appears to have informed the board and The Daily Republic only to the extent that it serves Graves' purpose. State law does allow a district to issue capital outlay certificates for certain expenditures. State law does not prevent such a school board action to be referred to a public vote.
Taxpayers are paying The Daily Republic in the July 7 request for proposals for the fine arts center. In that ad are the words "The Board of Education reserves the right to reject any or all proposals and may waive any irregularities therein." The board can only reject the requested proposal by a public school board vote. The board can reject any further proposals that may be made. The board can refer to a public vote, the final proposal for the fine arts center. The public cannot refer such an action to a public vote. Graves knows that there is a difference, but tells only part of the truth.
A year ago, May 31, 2013, The Daily Republic ran a headline, "Candidates' claims called 'bogus.'" Of course the candidates were Rod Hall and Tara Volesky, who were running for the Mitchell School Board. Had Volesky and Hall been elected, the public would have been informed on the progress of the fine arts center. The two facts the public were told then were that the building would cost $13,500,000 and it would seat 1,200 people. Hall and Volesky never doubted those numbers.
Graves also uncorked the idea that he would raise $6,500,000 from private donations. A year later Graves said that amount could not be raised from private donations. so now instead of a debt of $7,000,000 to be paid over 20 years it is now $13,500,000 and growing. A year ago Graves made no mention of the fact that architecture fees would be an additional $810,000. How much interest will be charged on the certificates over the next 20 years? If anyone is interested they could attend the bid openings at 10 a.m. on July 17 at the office of the business manager, Steve Culhane, 821 N. Capital St., Mitchell.
Where is the South Dakota law that states that such a building proposal by a school board can not have a public hearing? The Daily Republic was correct in suggesting how appropriate it would be to have such a hearing. The board or at least three of the members would have to take the action. The law does not allow the people to demand such an informational meeting. It might be of interest to the public today that Hall served three terms in the South Dakota Legislature while Graves only made three feeble attempts to do so. After saying he would be a candidate he then said he would not be a candidate. Whose comments are bogus?
At any point the school board, by official action, can have public meetings and discuss the fine arts proposal. At any point the board, by official action, may withdraw from the procedure. It may cost the district a fee here or there to do so. Finally, should the board wish to continue with the project, the board could refer the proposal to a public vote.
There is no way the public can refer it to the vote of the people; however, the board can.