The Oregon City School board agreed to place a 2-mill permanent improvement renewal levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The five-year levy will generate $1,251,932 annually for five years, according to School Board Member Jeff Ziviski.
The levy can only be used to fund for building operations and repairs, equipping and funishing schools, maintaining and purchasing buses, and computers.
“A permanent improvement levy is different from an operating levy,” said Ziviski. “It doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. It has its own account. It’s not lumped together with the operating levy.”
Ziviski requested a budget plan on permanent improvement funds.
“We need to educate the community on exactly what we plan on spending this money for, and not just give the general, legal requirements. We should have a budget in place on how we plan on spending it. If we’re asking for a renewal, I want a budget on how that money is going to be allocated,” he said.
The district also gets funding from a bond levy that was used for the construction of new schools and the remodeling of existing buildings.
The district passed a 5.9 mill operating levy last March to avoid a budget deficit.
Also at the meeting, the board tabled a proposal to purchase four new buses at a cost of $278,000. The board would have dipped into the permanent improvement budget to pay for the buses.
The board asked for additional information to determine if the buses are truly needed, said Ziviski.
“I requested information on the current fleet of vehicles, how many we have, the mileage of the buses, how much money we spend on repairs, and what our policy is to retire a vehicle. The money doesn’t come out of the general fund, but we still need to, during the economic times we’re in, monitor and control expenses. That money could be used maybe to repair a broken boiler in the winter, or a leaky roof. Those things can be expensive. We want to make sure we have that covered. We want to be financially prudent with the money, but also balance the safety of the students,” said Ziviski.
The board, which cut over $3 million from the budget in the last 12 months, is validating the most recent cuts - $1.2 million - made since the beginning of the year.
“We have now gone back and started verifying those actual cuts to make sure the reductions we approved have been realized,” he said.
“When we sold the operating levy to tax payers in March, we said we would cut $1.2 million more from the budget, regardless of whether the levy passed or not. The treasurer has provided us with a list of those cuts, which total $1.38 million,” said Ziviski.
The board has also discussed getting another operating levy on the ballot next year to avoid an estimated budget deficit of $1.16 million in 2010, said Ziviski.
“We started talking about it. If we pass it in 2009, we collect it in 2010.” Traditionally, revenue generated by a levy is collected a year after it is passed.
“We’re only projecting a $630,000 balance at the end of the 2009 fiscal school year. So we knew the 5.9 mill levy would only carry us a couple years before we had to come back for another one,” said Ziviski.
The district is looking for more cuts, including the use of over 80 cell phones issued to employees in the district. Cell phones have been issued to principals, maintenance, computer repair, recess monitors, coaches, and other employees in the district. The district had $2,000 in overage charges for each of the last two months, said Ziviski.
“We’re keeping an eye on it, and it’s just one of the areas we’re going to continually review to make sure we’re responsible financially and reducing anywhere we can. We are counting every single penny,” said Ziviski.