2013-10-26 / News

Lakewood should be off the ballot until 2018

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – Lakewood won’t be on the ballot until 2018, Superintendent Jay Gault said Oct. 9. The only caveat would be unexpected state legislation that would further reduce the district’s state funding. The 2018 ballot issue would be a levy renewal.

“Right now, financially, our district is in the best shape it’s been in a long time,” he said. “It should be at least another five years before a ballot issue. We’ve reduced our expenses dramatically.”

Treasurer Glenna Plaisted presented a very positive five-year forecast to the board members at the Oct. 9 meeting. “Our expenditures should not exceed our revenue until 2018,” she said.

Plaisted’s forecast shows the district’s 2014 revenue at $21,974, 851 and expenses at $20,143,884, resulting in a $1,830,967 surplus. By 2017, the district’s revenue is projected to be $22,921,269 with estimated expenses slightly less at $22,883,197, for a tny surplus of $38,072.

However, by 2018, Lakewood’s expenses will surpass its revenue by a projected $1,077,521. Its revenue is projected at $22,930,770, and expenses at $24,008,290.

Plaisted explained the district’s revenue sources and expenditures for fiscal year 2014. As of Oct. 8, the forecast shows the district receives $11,474,314 in general property tax and $897,428 in public utility personal property income. Unrestricted grants-inaid total $4,790,684 with $30,247 received from restricted grantsin aid. The district receives $3,574,067 from property tax allocation and $1,133,960 from all other operating revenues. Lakewood receives no revenue from income tax or restricted federal grants-in-aid.

On the expenditure side for fiscal year 2014, as of Oct. 8, the district spends $11,385,027 in personnel services and $4,063,140 in employees’ retirement and insurance benefits. The district spends $2,810,325 in purchased services and $578,632 in supplies and materials. The district spends $460,000 in capital outlay, $226,155 in principal, interest, and fiscal charges, and $606,074 in other objects. The district has no intergovernmental expenses.

In other district news:

• Lakewood parent Stacey Monroe said her children were involved in a minor school bus accident and while there were no injuries, she was concerned about the amount of time it took her to be notified of the incident. Monroe said she wasn’t notified until nearly 5 p.m. the day of the accident. “That’s an unrealistic time frame,” she said. Monroe said she researched other school districts’ mass notification alert systems. “The uses are endless,” she said, adding that the alert systems cost roughly $2 per district student.

“I’m not against (the alert systems),” said Gault Wednesday. But, the reality is that such an alert system may not be used much, considering school bus accidents are extremely rare and recently the district hasn’t experienced many snow days. He said at $2 per student, Lakewood would spend about $4,000 per year for the service, or $20,000 over five years. Considering current cell phone technology and its constant access to information, he questions the expense.

Gault said the policy in the event of a school bus accident is for a bus garage representative to call the parents of the students riding that particular bus. With an alert system, all parents would be informed of an accident regardless if their children are affected.

Gault agreed there are more uses for alert systems than just emergency notifications and he would defer to the board’s decision. “If the board would like us to get one, we’ll get one,” he said.

• Gault said Solar Planet has finally reached an interconnection agreement with AEP .

“That’s been the total holdup,” he said. Gault said Solar Planet only has to complete the permit process to begin construction of the banks of solar arrays, which he doesn’t anticipate being a problem. Gault cautiously said construction may begin soon, acknowledging the project’s many delays.

In February, board members agreed to begin working with Solar Planet Company on a solar power purchase agreement, or PPA, to purchase roughly 60 percent of the district’s power needs from a Solar Planet-installed solar array.

The agreement revives plans to use the projected savings from the solar project to repay a loan to finance replacement of old and inefficient windows in the middle school, per House Bill 264.

• Gault said there will be a special board meeting at 7 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, to discuss hiring a half-time preschool teacher, which an early Childhood Grant has made possible.

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