Get the Facts

Board Meeting Follow-Up

This past September we had talked about a Guaranteed Performance Contract for two weeks in a row, both on September 11th and September 18th.  The vote on the 18th was a tie.  Due to the tie the board voted to table the issue until the October 16th board meeting, when we’ll have the full board present.  Briefly, a tie board vote is considered a no action. There are a few things I want to make sure are plain as there is a great deal of misinformation going around.

  • No one is talking about raising taxes. The board has no authority to increase taxes for the general, miscellaneous, or building fund.
  • No consultant is being paid to provide service to the ENL school. CTS is a construction management company.  They’ve been working with the school for the last two and a half years and have yet to earn a single penny
  • Changes to our loan would decrease what needs to be set aside in the budget to cover building expenses. This is then extended over a longer period of time.
  • The district has never been obligated to complete all the projects identified by CTS as potentially producing an energy savings. The board has always intended to prioritize those projects identified.
No Tax

No Tax

First and foremost, nothing discussed in the past two meetings has anything to do with changing taxes.  The building fund levying authority was established in November 2018.  Nothing since then has been in the works to increase taxes any more than what 60% of the community voted yes for back in November.  Every project listed for consideration was also presented at those same public meetings in which passing the building fund was discussed.

The second issue I’d like to clear up is that no consultant is receiving any dollars from the ENL school district.  Back in the first year I was hired, the district looked into three different construction management companies to do analysis of the building for projects that needed to get done.  The CTS company specializes in energy savings and fixing up old buildings.  That is why they were selected to do a more detailed analysis of the building’s needs, which they received no money to do.

Wise Money

Wise Money

There is an idea that this is somehow increasing expenses.  That is exactly the opposite of what is going on.  The CTS company specializes in energy savings and the type of loan they are proposing involves guaranteeing cost savings equal not only to the projects they are looking to undertake but also the cost of the boiler loan.  Presently no savings on energy or utilities is occurring under the existing loan.  One scenario shared at the last board meeting would involve $693,661 dollars-worth of projects.  Over the course of the 15 years they would guarantee 613,850 dollars-worth of energy and utility savings.  They also figure in deferred maintenance that would not need to occur because the projects were completed.  This figure comes to $1,005,000 for a total of $1,618,850.  They would also anticipate another roughly $60,000 in energy savings but this amount is not guaranteed.  The refinanced boiler loan and the new projects would total $1,673,065 at the end of that 15 years.  In short, the loan is designed to pay for itself. Presently we have 5 years left on our loan and the cost of interest would be just shy of $113,000.  This is a cost with absolutely nothing to gain on the backside.  That is interest we are already scheduled to pay with no cost savings, no utilities savings, or maintenance completed.  The cost of these projects is also likely to keep rising with the cost of everything else.

As stated earlier the district has never been obligated to select all the projects presented by CTS.  The projects shared at the building fund meetings last year and at the information meetings this year have always been a list of potential projects.  If we do none of these projects, my question is simple.  What did 60% of our community approve just over $155,000 to be spent on?

Plan

Plan

This past year’s budget made it into the green and the projected budget is anticipated to do the same.  This was achieved through cuts to staffing and supplies.  Those who have taken the time to review the school’s budget and look it over have found no frills, extras, or unneeded expenses.  To make additional cuts would require the elimination of programs.  This was also discussed at those building fund meetings a year ago.  If we maintain our present course I see one of two outcomes in 2 or 3 years.  The first is going back to our taxpayers for more dollars in order to simply pay our bills.  No projects completed, no operating expenses reduced, and falling behind in our ability to attract quality staff.  The second scenario would most likely involve shutting the pool down.  I know some of you may read this and say great, lets do something in 2 or 3 years when that happens.  I would simply caution you that is exactly what got us into trouble with the boiler.  We waited until it was condemned and had to make quick financial decisions with the hand we were dealt.  The result was a more costly project, a second loan to pay for unexpected expenses, a loan with a bigger payment than desired, and a system that no one stood behind.

What is being attempted here is to create a plan to address building issues that will need to be dealt with at some point.  Then to do so in a way that results in the best use of the dollars.  The plans is to reduce our expenses to operate the building so we can not only afford to fix the building but also cover the expenses to do so.  Along with this, reduce the boiler loan payments to a point where there is still enough money left to invest in the education of our students.

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