School Talk: School parking lot needs rebuilding

As the current school year draws to a close, plans for 2013-14 are progressing rapidly. The district will be replacing several staff members due to retirement, staff moving to other school districts, and staff additions to reduce class section sizes.

As a part of the district facility management program, the district is exploring the potential of extensively repairing and resurfacing the parking lot at the main campus site near the High School and Jefferson Elementary. The parking lot subsurface is original from the time when the High School was built. Over the years, several overlay surfaces have been applied. The surface has also been subject to seal coating and crack-fill applications several times.

Engineers recommend total reconstruction of the parking lot. Due to the size of the project and the process of reconstruction, the estimated cost is substantial. The cost estimates, without requesting competitive bids, totals near $600,000. The school budget does not have discretionary financial resources of this size available. Therefore, the district has explored alternative financing options.

The most favorable and logical financing option is to implement a process known as tax abatement bonding. The abatement law allows the school district to bond for the cost of the project. The bonds would be repaid through local taxes spread over a time period of up to 15 years. The abatement bonding process is exempt from the referendum process.

The abatement bonding process minimizes the local property tax impact. Examples of the tax impact of this project are: (a) A $100,000 valued parcel of residential property would equal $2 per year. (b) A $100,000 valued parcel of commercial property would equal $4 per year. (c) A 160 acre piece of agriculture homestead property would equal $30 per year. (d) A 160 acre piece of non-homestead property would equal $47 per year.

The tax impact is minimal using the abatement bonding process. Moving forward with the project allows the school district to preserve the investment in school district facilities for the next 20 years.

The abatement funding process requires several procedural steps including MDE review/comment, public notice, plus a public hearing. This funding option will be discussed at future school board meetings.