During board discussion concerning our revenues to proceed with a new school in Tropic to serve the families at Bryce Valley Elementary, several issues were mentioned that caused some concern. We were hopeful to combine this project with a new school in Panguitch also.
Please allow me to update you concerning the status of both projects. As new schools are built, the funds for these projects usually come in the form of a General Obligation Bond which is voted on by the general public. It either wins the vote or it doesn’t. Over the past several school building projects in Garfield County, the tax payers of the county paid off the bonds and actually had funds to spare. This money was paid by the tax payers in excess and according to state law, should have gone back to the tax payer. This money did not and so the district kept the money for future projects in essence prepaying future projects.
Several years ago, the state auditor issued a finding saying that the school district would have to give this money back to the tax payer. For this year and next, you will be paying a smaller tax amount to the county on behalf of the school district. After the two year period, your taxes will go back to their normal rate which has already been approved through a Truth in Taxation hearing and a subsequent Voted Local Levy on November 5, 2013. These two years of tax revenue decrease will amount to approximately $1 Million.
An additional revenue loss for the district this year is funds that were not allocated due to the federal government’s lack of Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funding to both Garfield County and the school district. Roughly $500,000 was lost in this transaction to the district alone this year. Combining both revenue sources over two years, the district will be down at least $1.5 million from what was projected.
Currently, the district has cash reserves that will allow for the complete construction of Bryce Valley Elementary. We also have reserve amounts and financing capabilities to begin Panguitch Elementary however our problem comes from the $1.5 million loss that was to be directed towards our first payments for Panguitch Elementary. As a result, I will request the Garfield County School Board approve the immediate construction of Bryce Valley Elementary and place on hold the Panguitch Elementary actual construction until SRS and the current property tax credit issues are remedied. Planning and architect work will continue for Panguitch Elementary so we are ready to move forward when this funding issue stabilizes.
Tracy Davis, Superintendent – Garfield County School District