New Bloomfield R-III School District considers bond issue for spring ballot

District forms committee to examine potential facility repairs

Update: The original story posted contained an error in the tax levy figures. This version is with the correct figures.

The New Bloomfield R-III School District has formed a committee to prioritize a list of potential facility repairs in the district. The New Bloomfield Board of Education will then decide if it wants to bundle those repairs and put a no-tax-increase bond issue on the spring ballot.

Superintendent David Tramel said it makes sense to go through with the bond issue now — bonds have low interest rates right now and contractors have been bidding competitively in the market. But, it doesn’t make sense to replace items that don’t need replacing quite yet. Tramel said the district must decide how critical the repairs are and what is best financially for the district.

“By in large, even with the committee you draw together, you don’t have a lot of experts walking through your halls,” Tramel said.

He had two different groups of contractors walk through the district’s facilities and provide ballpark estimates of how much repairs would cost.

The district sets aside money for repairs each year. In a normal summer, Tramel said the district spends anywhere between $50,000 and $125,000 on stand-alone summer projects. This past summer, the district fixed some drainage problems.

But the repairs on the committee’s list will include items that will cost more than the district’s usual repair budget. The list of potential projects includes heating and cooling systems, roofs, replacing some older windows for energy efficiency and parking lot repairs. Those types of projects, Tramel said, can quickly become costly.

“Those are all pretty large-ticket repairs,” Tramel said.

Heating and air units functioning well is a necessity, Tramel said. But, if older units still have a few years left in them, then Tramel said he doesn’t want to replace them too soon.

He compared the bond issue to a home-improvement loan. He said the school board will need to decide if this is the right year to make repairs and if the bond issue is the best route to address repair needs. The committee will look at the list and will help determine the seriousness of items on the list.

Since the district has paid off some bonds early, it is in a place financially where it could take out more of a loan without raising taxes. Tramel said the district tries to keep the amount tax payers contribute around the same each year so that they do not see a huge fluctuation in how much they pay in taxes.

The district can levy enough money from taxes to pay off debt it owes for the year. It can also carry a balance in its debt-service account equal to one year’s worth of debt payments, Tramel said.

Lower valuation causes increase in operating tax levy

The board set the tax levy to $4.3903 at its Aug. 21 meeting. Last year’s tax levy was $4.3858. The increase of less than one-half of 1 cent in the total tax levy comes from a decrease in the district’s assessed valuation.

The county assessor gave the New Bloomfield R-III School District an assessed valuation of $44.29 million this year — a decrease from last year’s $44.48 million assessed valuation. Tramel said he was expecting an increase in valuation and therefore more tax money to come in this year. However, the lower assessed valuation would have brought in $6,000 in tax income for the district.

“It’s not a huge loss,” Tramel said at the board’s Aug. 21 meeting. “But it’s not an increase.”

The board approved an increase in its operating tax levy at its meeting to make up for that $6,000.

“In a $6 million budget, it may not seem like a lot, but that’s very real money,” Tramel said.

Also at its meeting, the board approved the debt-service levy to stay at $1.3452. The state recommended or allowed for a slightly higher rate, but the district voluntarily rolled back its debt-service levy.

Megan Favignano can be reached at (573) 826-2417 or megan@fultonsun.com.

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