NEW HAVEN – The East Allen County Schools board will consider a low-interest, short-term loan to pay for improvements to some of its buildings.
EACS Business Manager Kirby Stahly presented the district's preliminary budget plans Tuesday for two tax-supported funds, capital projects and bus replacement. The capital projects fund pays for items like building improvements and maintenance, utilities, insurance and technology. A drop in revenue in 2009 by nearly $2 million due to lower assessed values was never recovered, and the cut to the fund has prevented the district from performing needed renovations, Stahly said.
This year alone, the fund will also lose about $256,000 because of property tax caps. The district is budgeting for $9.5 million in revenue, but doesn't expect to receive the full amount, Stahly said.
"Don't plan on spending all that money next year, but that's what the plan is," he told board members.
Last year the district collected about $7.7 million in revenue in the fund, with nearly $3 million spent on technology. About $3.8 million was spent on buildings.
The district asked voters to support a building referendum totaling $88 million last May, but it was rejected. Now, EACS has to figure out a way to address the needs of the buildings in its Harding and New Haven attendance areas, which were to receive much of the improvements in the referendum.
Stahly has been working with a facilities team in the district to create a list of must-haves if the board OKs the short-term loan, called a general obligation bond. It would be less than $2 million and could be paid back over two or 20 years, a decision at the discretion of the district. On Tuesday, Stahly cited boiler replacements, parking lot improvements, roofing and sidewalks among a list of items that could be paid for with the $2 million bond. The bond would be paid back through a different fund, Stahly said.
Laws passed in 2011 altered how much local tax revenue school districts can raise to purchase buses. Although the district is scheduled to replace 24 buses, it will likely only be able to purchase half that with a maximum levy set at $1.4 million for next year, Stahly said.
The board plans to discuss the short-term loan option further at its next board meeting. The entire budget is scheduled for board approval on Oct. 15.