School capital budget recommendations elicit back-and-forth discussion

When the NBAPS School Board addressed capital budget recommendations at its Thursday meeting, there was a back-and-forth discussion between School Board Member Randy Westby, Superintendent Deb Henton and the rest of the board.

Westby was the lone member of the board to vote against the recommendations.

Henton explained to Westby that what the board was voting on were needed repairs at the district’s facilities, such as pipefitting, roof and bleacher repairs at the high school and fixing crumbling sections of pavement and sidewalk.

The district plans to address some of its most pressing facilities needs soon with money that was acquired when the district sold the former Main Street School site to Peterson’s Country Mill in April 2013.

Henton noted she is looking to put together a task force composed of numerous stakeholders in the district and the community to research how to pay for about $45 million worth of repairs and upgrades across the district in the coming years, but first the board needed to address the most dire facilities needs.

Westby said he didn’t believe there was any funding from the state to do repairs and upgrades.

“I went back and looked everything over, and I don’t see any participation from the state,” he said.

NBAPS Director of Finance and Personnel Randi Johnson said that wasn’t the case and information detailing funding sources was offered to the School Board at its work session two weeks ago.

Westby said he did not go to the work session.

“You and I talked as recently as yesterday,” Henton said to Westby. “I just need to know (you have questions) so I can provide you with the information.”

Johnson said nearly the same information had been presented to the board at a December 2013 budget meeting.

“I’d be happy to look at that, and I’ll vote on it when I’m satisfied that I have enough information,” Westby told the board.

Board Member Tim MacMillan said to Westby that he should be reading the information in the board packets before he comes to meetings.

“What is there preventing you from moving forward on taking a vote tonight?” MacMillan asked. “You’ve had the information to look at, and you should do the due diligence of looking at the information that’s been provided.”

Henton then asked Johnson to access the information from the December budget meeting and explain it to Westby.

“If it’s 100 percent on the local taxpayers, then I’m ready to vote now,” he said.

Henton replied, “It’s not 100 percent paid for by local taxes. There is some equalization (from the state).”

Johnson then explained the breakdown.

With the operating capital, she said $207,000 is local levy, and $470,000 is state aid.

“For every dollar of local property tax levy, we get $2.28 of state aid,” she said.

In the deferred maintenance levy, $109,900 is local property tax, and $38,000 is state aid.

But the health and safety levy, she noted, does not have an equalization factor from the state.

That levy — $98,950 — is all local property taxes.

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