by Tim Linscott
Getting all of their proverbial ducks in a row, the Perkins County Public Schools board has chosen a firm to help guide the financial future of a multi-million dollar project.
At the July school board meeting the board agreed to hire D.A. Davidson & Company from Omaha.
The plan for the district in regard to financing the $7.5 million project is to continue to use tax funds that were previously dedicated to building the cash reserve but will be re-dedicated specifically to paying off the project.
Timing will be everything in the project as the district is projected to pull in $700,000 in tax monies each year for the building fund.
“We need to get a good, hard look at our financial year to get a feel for our fiscal flow,” said PCS School Board President Shawn Turner.
“Our goal is to be able to pay back in four years without having to increase the total tax asking from what it was this year,” PCS board member Jayson Bishop said.
The board plans to move seven cents from the general fund levy into the building fund until the project is paid off, which school officials hope is within four years.
If the board moves the seven cents from one fund to another, it will still collect between $200,000 and $250,000 next year for the general fund. A rule of thumb the board follows is to have three to four months of expenses in the general fund as cash reserves, which for Perkins County is $1.5 million.
The board will consult with its auditor, Rauner and Associates of Sidney to check all legalities involved with the project.
“We want to do this right,” Turner said. “The biggest concern is if we can collect what we’re supposed to and then we can move $400,000 out of the general (fund) and move into the building fund, we’ll be all right but I want to be sure we can move from the general fund and be financially sound.”
Turner explained the issue easily: The district wants to loan funds to them selves from funds saved up and then pay the loan back to themselves.
For board member Doug Beck, it just makes sense.
“As a taxpayer, it will be so much cheaper to do this if we have the money. Why borrow it if we have it?” Beck asked.
Turner said the best use of the tax dollars is to pay off the project as quickly as possible.
With $4 million needed for the project, the board is still examining whether to borrow the full amount up front or delay the process, borrowing a portion of the funds needed right away, as a means of saving interest money for the district.
“We will have to borrow $4 million, but we are just working out what would be the best route to go,” Bishop said.
The board hopes by next month to have a final vision of the financial picture for the district.
“By next month we should have our year-end numbers in and will work on the budget for the coming year, so I think we’d have a better picture of the way we want to go,” Bishop said.