$15 Million School District Bonds?

At the July 29, 2014 Batavia School Board Finance Committee’s noon meeting (video here), the maintenance shed was a big item on the agenda. It seems fixing the current building for $135,000 is no longer being considered (the building may be used for cold storage of salt and mulch), and the focus has shifted to renovating and leasing-to-own a building owned by former school board president Ron Link at 804 W. Main St. The cost of renovation to get that building to move-in condition is estimated to be $424,000 (Mr. Link offered a $150,000 incentive against that cost), with a $12,000/month lease. This was the building that started at $1.5 million (p.115/193) in the original athletic fields redevelopment plan, grew to $3.1 million by the May 27, 2014 presentation, then $4.5 million by the June 24, 2014 Finance Committee meeting.

In order to finance this, along with the rest of the athletic fields redevelopment plan (like artificial turf), as well as other anticipated capital improvements like roofs and parking lots, Asst. Superintendent of Finance Kris Monn proposed issuing $15 million in alternate revenue bonds, to be repaid at the rate of $1.2 million/yr over 20 years. The typical Capital Projects budget is $1.5 million/yr. So at first it sounds like there would be $300,000/yr left over after paying off these bonds for other projects that come up. HOWEVER, it was said that there are $22.6 million in projects, including the new athletic fields, through 2018. That would mean that after spending $15 million “in one fell swoop”, the remaining $300,000/yr over 20 yrs wouldn’t even complete 4 years of projects ($300,000 x 20 = $6 million; $6 million + $15 million =$21 million, $1.6 million short of costs through 2018). Considering the bonds wouldn’t be paid off till 2034, that’s a lot of years with no money. Of course, leaky roofs and broken boilers won’t wait till that debt is paid off….

The good news is that the bonds will allow for a referendum. A referendum on the athletic fields redevelopment plan is something BRG members have repeatedly requested (and been repeatedly denied). We welcome the chance to give the taxpayers a say in how their money is spent.

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