When residents in the Cedar Springs Public Schools district go to the polls May 3, they will be asked to approve a one mill sinking fund levy to help fund maintenance and repairs on the school campus.
“There is no extra money in the general fund at this time,” said Board President Joe Marckini. “We’ve been putting things off, that’s why we are asking for a sinking fund.” He explained that with shrinking revenue, they follow board procedures and keep funds spent as close to the students as possible—which means cutting back in other areas, such as maintenance.
But with additional cuts and costs for schools this upcoming school year, they could be facing a $2.4 million deficit. And that could mean cutting education programs that affect kids.
A committee of parents, community members and staff began looking at the needs in October 2010, and brought the recommendation to ask for a sinking fund levy to help fund maintenance and operations early this year.
The levy, which would be for a period of 10 years, would cost a person with a $100,000 property value $50 per year. It saves taxpayers money over a general bond, which runs 30 years, because there are no interest payments or borrowing costs. “It’s not practical to extend a payment for repairs over 30 years when we’ll have to make repairs multiple times during that period,” noted Marckini. “This is a ‘pay as we go,’ which shows the transparency of the board.”
The sinking fund levy can only be used for infrastructure. While they are identifying the true needs in each building, some of the priorities are parking, roads, and student drop offs; safety and security needs; technology and energy upgrades; and replacement of the synthetic turf on the athletic field.
The board says they’ve worked hard to be good financial stewards, increasing their fund balance from 5.7 percent to 14.99 percent, which allows them to make payroll during the summer months without borrowing, before the state payments come in; and decreasing dollars spent on payroll from 85 percent to 75 percent. They said teachers, administrators and support staff have all taken freezes and benefit cuts to help support student needs.
The Board of Education will have a booth at Community Night tonight (Thursday) with information on the sinking fund. To print out a flier, click link: Sinking Fund Flyer