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Approval of Sinking Fund Would Allow Facility Repairs


Wyoming Public Schools is hoping to purchase new roofs, doors and windows and pay for parking-lot improvements and other ongoing facility needs by establishing a sinking fund.

The 0.5-mill, 10-year levy will be on the ballot Tuesday, Nov. 3, but, if approved, it won’t result in higher taxes.

Because the district refinanced existing debt, resulting in interest savings of more than $2 million, property taxes are expected to decrease, said Superintendent Tom Reeder.

What the sinking fund would cover district-wide:

  • Replaced and re-keyed doors. Many are rusted beyond repair
  • Emergency lighting for increased safety
  • Upgraded heating control units and a high-efficiency heating system
  • Exterior lights to provide better evening lighting for after school events
  • Remodeled student bathrooms
  • Replace or repair roofs. All are at or beyond their 20-year useful life
  • Parking lots. Many are in need of resurfacing, and parking capacity needs to be added to ease congestion at drop-off and pickup areas

Source: Wyoming Public Schools

The levy would generate about $400,000 a year. Unlike bond issues, which yield large sums districts must pay back with interest, sinking funds pay as they go, yielding only as much as is raised by yearly tax revenue. They cannot be used for salaries and other operational expenses.

The millage would cost the owner of a $120,000 home $30 per year, but due to the refinancing, the district’s debt millage is scheduled to go down 0.55 mills, totaling a $33 decrease in taxes on that same home, next year.

“So approval of the sinking fund would still net that homeowner a tax decrease of $3 per year while allowing the district to make overdue investments in its infrastructure,” said Matt Lewis, assistant superintendent for finance and administrative services.

The fund will help pay for district facility needs until current bonds are repaid in 2021 and the district can ask for a larger millage request, Reeder said. Bond requests of $53 million and $49 million failed in May and November 2013.

“Wyoming Public Schools has been very prudent with the funds and resources provided to them,” he said. “But as our aging facilities continue to have the need for more then general maintenance and safety expectations, this requires work to be done beyond the means of our general operating budget. Challenges in the state budget have not provided increases to the general fund to match the needs and expectations of our community.”

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SNN article on What is a Sinking Fund?

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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