|The most significant item dealt with in the Board of Education 45 minute meeting Tuesday evening, in addition to accepting director Brian Clince’s resignation, was the unanimous approval of three motions establishing the procedures for introducing a bond issue on November’s ballot. In order to implement the district’s Colorado BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) grant of over $6 million, the district is required to provide matching funds of over $4 million.
As the passed resolution calling for the ballot issue states, “there are not sufficient funds in the treasury of the District and the Board does not anticipate that existing sources of revenue will be sufficient to generate the moneys necessary to meet the match required to receive the grant award for the BEST project.”
That project is focused on upgrading and refurbishing the aging school buildings to proper safety, security and health conditions, and includes such things as heating and air, reconfiguring the main entrance, upgrading the wood shop/ad ed building, fire and safety improvements, security and surveillance enhancement, roof replacement, electrical and plumbing systems upgrades, and Americans With Disabilities Act improvements.
In addition to the ballot issue resolution for the issuance of general obligation bonds and the levying of property taxes to pay for such bonds, the approved motions established by contract the protocols for the conducting of the election by the County Clerk, the wording of the ballot initiative, and the appointment of George K. Baum and Company (GKB) to provide underwriting services for the bond, should it be approved.
Over the last six years, GKB has assisted 111 Colorado school district financings totaling $4.07 billion, from the sprawling Denver schools 2012 bond issue of $455 million to Eagle’s $600,000 dollar bond in 2016. The assistance from the Denver based firm will cost the Custer County district nothing out of pocket, should the bond be passed. If it is not passed, there is no payment to GKB; if it is passed, GKB fees come out of the bond proceeds.
The ballot issue, assuming all procedural requirements are met in the required timely fashion, will read in part:
“Shall Custer Consolidated School District No. C-1 debt be increased $4.74 million, with a repayment cost of up to $7.9 million, and shall district taxes be increased by up to $495,000 annually to extend the useful life of existing school facilities and reduce operation and maintenance costs by the issuance and payment of general obligation bonds to provide local matching money required for the District to receive $6.46 million in awarded “BEST” grant funds (which are not required to be repaid) to finance the costs of repairing and renovating the District-wide school campus…” The ballot wording goes on to state the building project’s details, and the legalities involved in the issuance and payment of the bond.
The projected taxpayer data already provided by GKB, and distributed at the meeting, indicates that the annual property taxes per $100,000 home would increase by $15.95. Commercial property taxes per $50,000, would increase $32.13; per $100,000, $64.26; and per $250,000, $160.64. Grazing land per 160 acres, a quarter section, would increase $1.94 per acre from the current property tax.
The four members of the public in attendance made no comment on the bond issue; one person in attendance did make an inquiry regarding the district’s plans for SAT testing, given the state’s new emphases on that pre-college assessment program.
Another significant matter before the BOE was accepting director Brian Clince’s resignation, received August 1 and effective immediately, and establishing the procedures for the call for nominations of candidates for school directors in November. In addition to Clince’s seat in District 1, now vacated for a term of two years, the District 4 and 5 seats now occupied by Bob Jolley and President Terre Davis are up for election for the usual four year term. Neither Jolley nor Davis are term limited, and can run again if they so declare.
Additional business included confirming contracts for the now fully staffed district, re-appointing Rene Davis as Secretary for the district, acquiring a new Ag truck, and receiving opening school reports from the principal, assistant principal, athletic director, and superintendent.
Minutes of the meeting will eventually be published on www.custercountyschools.org. The next regular monthly meeting of the BOE will convene Tuesday, September 12 at 4:30 p.m. in the school library. A working session, to which the public is invited, is also scheduled for next Tuesday, August 15 at 5 p.m., to finalize priorities for the district’s Strategic Plan.
– W.A. Ewing