BISD has $876,000 remaining from bond

With an estimated $876,000 fund balance remaining from its 2006 Capital Facilities Bond, the Bainbridge Island School District is considering three options that would return funds to taxpayers.

The district will hold a public hearing to provide the community opportunity to comment on the fund balance before it makes its decision. The district does not have a specific deadline for the meeting, Supt. Faith Chapel said. However, the public hearing will likely take place in early fall, she said.

The $45 million 2006 capital facilities bond paid for replacement of the 200 building of Bainbridge High School – which cost approximately $32 million – and completed renovations to other schools.

Additional revenue such as investment earnings, impact fees and state matching funds, effective management of resources has allowed the district to complete approximately $49 million in construction and renovation projects, Chapel wrote in a memo to the board.

Small works projects will also be completed over the summer. The estimated $876,000 fund balance will remain when the projects are completed.

“We were able to identify grants – that we were successful in obtaining – and that can be contributed to it,” Facilities and Capital Projects Director Tamela VanWinkle said at Wednesday’s meeting. “Then we had interest earnings. We also had state matching dollars and impact fees that were collected.”

The fund balance can only be used on capital, and cannot fund teacher salaries, which are paid through the general fund.

“As we all know we cannot do that because these are bond dollars and interest earnings on bond proceeds have a very restrictive use,” Chapel said.

VanWinkle presented three options for use of the funds.

The first option reduce the debt service by returning the balance to the debt service fund. Taxes would be slightly reduced, VanWinkle said.

The second option would apply the balance to the current 2009 bond, which would reduce the final bond issuance number.

“The potential advantage to that is we wouldn’t be paying to issue that amount of bonding,” VanWinkle said. “That could possibly be a good way to still reduce taxes but yet to pay for that bond issue.”

The third option would be to purchase or replace approximately $303,000 of equipment and return the remaining $573,000 to the debt service fund.

Washington State law permits remaining capital fund dollars to be used to “acquire, construct, equip and make other capital improvements to the facilities of the district.”

Taking advantage of the fund balance could reduce a burden on the general fund, which has been plagued with budget cuts. The district has cut nearly 13 percent of its operating budget over the last three years.

“Typically equipment replacement comes out of the general fund, and so in the past several years that has been a part of the maintenance and operations request,” VanWinkle said. “But as funding has been cut from the state and from all of our funding sources, we’ve had to really snap our belts to the point that some of these items are needing replacement. We just don’t have the funds for them because, of course, we’re focusing on our classrooms. So when this opportunity presets itself, it allows you to use interest earnings to purchase equipment.”

VanWinkle identified equipment from four categories: custodial equipment, maintenance and grounds, transportation and generators and back-up equipment that needs replacement. Items include floor scrubbers, pressure washers, a forklift and compressors.

An itemized list of equipment will be made available, VanWinkle said.

“My impression is that options one and two would be refreshing to the public, especially when we’re going out for new bond issues,” board member John Tawresy said. “Option three is probably more practical.”

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