SIDNEY — A recommendation to place a 2-mill continuing permanent improvement (PI) levy on the March 15, 2016, ballot was proposed by Superintendent John Scheu during Monday night’s Sidney City School Board of Education meeting. The need for a PI levy for the district was outlined by Scheu, Treasurer Mike Watkins and Eric Finke, director of operations and technology.
“We have talked about the need for a permanent improvement levy during the past few board meetings,” said Scheu.
A permanent improvement levy, he said, is for property, assets and improvements that have a life of five years or more. The money can be used for renovations, site improvement and the purchase of equipment.
“A PI cannot generate funds for employee salaries of benefits,” stressed Scheu.
In order to place the levy on the March ballot, the board must pass a resolution of necessity and certify it with the Shelby County Auditor by Dec. 4, 2015. At a second meeting, the board must pass a resolution determining to proceed and certify the levy with the Shelby County Board of Elections by Dec. 16, 2015.
If approved, the first tax collections for the levy would be received by the district in January/February 2017.
“A 2 mill continuous levy would ease the burden on the operating budget,” said Scheu. “We feel anything above the 2 mill would be too much for the voters to handle.”
“Expenditures aren’t going to stop,” said Watkins. “We need to generate a revenue stream strictly for them (permanent improvements).”
The 2 mill amount, said Scheu, was determined by the expired and reduced millage for the district. In 2015, the district reduced its millage on the middle school construction project by 1.2 mills and when the permanent improvement levy expired it was at .8 mills. The two amounts added together, he said, totals the 2 mills he recommends being placed on the ballot.
Board member Paul Heins said the district needs to take care of its buildings and buses, which travel over the 65-square mile district each day.
“The hardest part of it is the continuous part,” said board member Bob Smith.
The continuous levy means it would remain on the tax rolls forever, unlike the previous PI levy, which had to be renewed every five years.
Watkins said he would find out if the levy could be placed on the ballot for 10 years before the next meeting.
The proposed 2 mill PI levy would mean an additional $70 of property tax per $100,000 of property value. If property valuation goes up, the millage would be reduced so the same dollar amount would be collected. If there is new construction within the school district, that would mean new tax monies for the levy.
Scheu presented a history of the permanent improvement levy for the district. It was first approved in 1969 for a five year period and was for 1 mill. It was approved again in 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2004. In 2009, the levy was permitted to expire by the board.
“The year 2009 was a difficult time in the district financially,” said Scheu. “We couldn’t get a levy passed so the board decided not to put it back on the ballot.
“I believe we have a strong argument for a permanent improvement levy instead of draining the general fund.”
The projected needs of the district, said Scheu, are included in the five-year forecast. Those needs don’t include things that come up unexpectedly.
Watkins discussed the PI fund and how money from the general fund is being transferred to it.
“Since the PI expired, we have chosen to continue to fund the PI fund,” said Watkins. “In 2011, we exhausted the existing funds in it (PI fund). In 2012, we started to transfer from the general fund.”
In 2012, he said, $150,000 was transferred to the general fund. In both 2013 and 2014, $250,000 each year was transferred. In 2015, $450,000 was transferred and in 2016, $350,000 has been transferred. A total of $1,4500,000 has been transferred from the general fund to the PI fund.
“This is a significant drain on the general fund,” said Watkins. “We can’t continue at this pace to support the PI fund with general funds.”
A review of needs at each of the district’s building was presented by Finke. A five-year plan of repairs/replacement of equipment was outlined.
Emerson Elementary, he said, was built in 1950. On the repair schedule for 2017 is to fix the boiler room ceiling, $7,000, cement work on the sidewalks, $6,000, and replace cold water lines, $9,000. In 2018, repairs include roof and gutters replaced, $50,000, and resurface the playground (pea gravel), $50,000.
In 2021, the courtyard doors are to be replaced, $7,000. Flooring is to be replaced in three rooms over a three-year period of 2021, 2022 and 2023 for an estimated cost of $6,500. In 2022, the boiler heating system is slated to be replaced for $80,000.
Finke said there is a new law in which pea gravel for playgrounds will be banded by the state. He doesn’t know what year the law will go into effect.
Longfellow Elementary School was also built in 1950. Projected needs include: cement work on sidewalks, $6,000, replace cold water lines, $9,000, and parking lots, $6,000, all in 2017; resurface the playground, $70,000 in 2018; roof and gutters replaced, $50,000, and courtyard doors replaced, $7,000, both in 2021; flooring in three rooms replaced, $5,000, in 2021, 2022 and 2023; and boiler heating system replaced, $80,000 in 2022.
Whittier Elementary School was constructed in 1950. Projected needs include: cement work on sidewalks, $6,000, replace cold water lines, $9,000, parking lots, $2,500, and tuck pointing of bricks, $3,000, all in 2017; flooring in three rooms, $5,000, in 2017, 2021 and 2022; roof and gutters replaced, $15,000, and resurfacing playground, $50,000, both in 2018; courtyard doors replaced, $7,000, and three-phase electric upgrade, $225,000, both in 2021; and boiler heating system replaced, $80,000 in 2022.
Needs for Northwood Elementary, which was built in 1957, include hot water heater, $1,000, and tuck pointing of bricks, $4,000, modular classroom canopy replacement, $5,000, all in 2017; flooring in three rooms, $5,000, in 2017, 2022 and 2023; roof and gutters replaced, $65,000 in 2018; three-phase electric upgrade, $200,000 in 2021; and boiler heating system replacement, $100,000 in 2022.
Sidney Alternative School was built in 1930. Needs include parking lots, $6,000, tuck pointing of bricks, $8,000, ceiling in basement repaired, $7,000, all in 2017; resurface playground, $80,000, in 2018; roof and gutters replaced, $40,00, and boiler heating system replacement, $50,000, both in 2022; window replacements, $35,000, and door replacements, $15,000, both in 2023.
Lowell Elementary School was opened in 1950. Needs for the building include: parking lots, $6,000, and tuck pointing of bricks, $8,000, both in 2018; window replacement, $30,000, door replacement, $10,000, both in 2021; and boiler heating system replacement, $50,000, in 2023.
Sidney Middle School, which was built in 2003, has the following needs: mixing valve in boiler room replacement, $2,500, parking lot crack fill and paint, $16,600, and lighting in audeteria, $5,000 after DPL rebates, all in 2017; and floor replacements, $50,000, in 2023-2028.
Sidney High School was built in 1960 and renovated in 2004. Building needs include: hot water heater and lines, $300,000, water heaters, $10,000, mixing valve, $5,000, C hall doors-leaking, $3,000, all in 2018; HVAC upgrade in A, B and C halls, $2 million, in 2019-2020; basement cement, $75,000, in 2021; B hall plumbing, $100,000, in 2022; variable frequency drives for 1960 motor, $15,000, in 2023; roof replacements, $425,000, in 2022-2026; and floor replacements, $50,000, in 2023-2028.
Needs at the board of education building, which was built in 2004, include: garage for school vans, $75,000, in 2017; and generator replacement, $25,000, in 2021.
Transportation needs include school vans, $25,000 per van, 2017, 2017 and 2018; and school buses, $100,000 per bus, in 2017, 2018, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
Technology needs include: desktop replacements, $800 per seven-year cycle, 125 units, $100,000; mobile devices per year, Chrome and iPads, $150,000; headphones for computers/testing, $15 per child, $50,000 to $73,000, in 2017; switch replacement starting in 2021, five per year, $5,000 after erate; UPS upgrade district wide, $20,000, after $80 percent erate, in 2017.
The service center is where all the maintenance vehicles, salt and supplies are stored. Needs were include roof replacement, $100,000, in 2021.
Watkins and Finke have projected the yearly PI expenses for 2017 to 2025 to be: $883,600 in 2017; $992,000 in 2018; $1 million in 2019; $1 million in 2020; $842,500 in 2021; $903,000 in 2022; $765,500 in 2023; $600,000 (flooring, technology, SHS roofing and windows) in 2024; and $600,000 (flooring, technology, SHS roofing and windows) in 2025.
The board will discuss the PI at the Nov. 2 meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. at the board of education. They will determine the amount and longevity of the levy and whether to place it on the March ballot.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.