Truth in Taxation Follow Up

Truth in Taxation Follow-Up

On September 11th, 2019 the school district held both a truth in taxation and energy/utility performance contract information session.  I thank the over 20 people who attended to ask questions and become more informed.  Thanks to these people I believe I understand some misunderstandings that need to be cleared up.

Piggy bank on a stack of books

Piggy bank

First and foremost, the truth in taxation meeting was not a meeting held to increase taxes.  It was held to explain the taxes you already received on your tax statements.  I can confidently say that the ENL school district is thankful for the 15 mils it was approved to levy for the building fund and we are keenly aware this was no small request.  We are presently levying the maximum that is allowed for our general fund, miscellaneous, and building fund.  We as a district do not have any more authority to increase mils for any of these reasons.  We are committed to making these dollars work to pay our existing expenses and not asking our generous tax payers for any more mils.

Please also keep in mind that these meetings are now annual, regardless of changes in your taxes.  This was a recent change in the state law and all of your truth and taxation meetings will be advertised by the county instead of receiving 3 separate letters.

Original school building in New Leipzig

Original school building in New Leipzig

The other major part of the meeting was to discuss the projects we are considering to undertake with the CTS company to keep our building up to date.  These are the same projects that we presented during the building levy information meetings.  No dollars have been committed to any of these projects at this time.  The school board is considering entering into a Guaranteed Energy/Utility Performance Contract in order to complete those projects deemed most necessary and to actualize energy and utility cost savings in the operation of the building.  Doing so would allow us to roll our existing boiler loan payment of $206,000 annually into a new loan consisting of both the boiler project and the potentially selected scope of work that CTS can provide.   The potential refinanced loan could range between 10 and 15 years in length.

This would allow us to make the payments on the loan within the building levy we have already submitted to the county.  Without refinancing the loan we’d need to spend every dollar of the building fund and roughly 5 additional mils from either the general or miscellaneous levy just to make payments on the boiler.  This is without even touching any other projects that may need to get done around the building.  If the district selects to refinance there is potential to pay for all of this new loan through the established building fund and still have dollars left to address other issues as they arise.

Picture of the word trends in blue with different years around it in white.

Trends

One of my jobs as your superintendent is to try my best to anticipate current and future trends so we can be prepared for what might come.  I’ve been your superintendent for 3 years now and have spent a good deal of that time with the facts and figures that characterize our district.  This being said, I am of the opinion that the school district’s current financial situation is not sustainable with the current boiler payment.  This payment currently has 5 years left.  Regardless if the district does nothing, costs will increase.  This is because the cost of goods, services, and many other things continue to rise.  Presently I would not count on the state to provide our district any additional funds in the near future and presently enrollment is not likely to see any increases.  We have already made cuts to staffing and supplies.  There is very little left to cut and doing so would result in loss of programs.  Should we choose to refinance, it would give the district more ability to stretch our existing budget to pay our current and anticipated expenses.

Ultimately this will be a decision made by the school board.  My job is to advise, gather information, and make recommendations.  We will be discussing this topic again on September 18th, 2019.  If you missed the September 11th meeting and still have questions, you are welcome to attend.  A decision may be made or tabled to the next meeting to move forward with a Guaranteed Energy/Utility Performance Contract.

 

Presentation: http://www.gcs.k12.nd.us/superintendent/files/2019/09/Truth-in-Taxation-Slideshow.pptx

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