By David Fleet
Goodrich — On May 9, Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved new legislation that will allow school districts to now use sinking funds to repair, maintain or purchase buses. Senate Bill 63, which goes into effect in early August, will provide greater versatility as the Goodrich School Board will now present a resolution in July, for a 1 mil sinking fund proposal that district voters will decide in November.
“Goodrich is one of the few schools in the area that does not currently have a sinking fund,” said Mike Baszler, district superintendent. “It’s difficult to pull the money out of the general fund.”
In November 2022, 58.89 percent of district voters turned down a 1 mill sinking fund millage proposal that would provide over a period of 10 years approximately $570,000 per year.
“This is outstanding for school districts,” he said. “We can do a good job of educating, and communicating the need for the sinking fund. It’s long overdue and this could set up facilities and now transportation for years to come. The new legislation will be a huge benefit. ”
Sinking funds provide districts with a cost-effective alternative to borrowing through short or long-term bonds, because they require none of the associated interest costs or legal fees. A sinking fund allows districts to have money on-hand to pay for projects.
A similar millage vote was delayed until later this year after the Michigan House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 63 allowing revenue raised under sinking fund millages to be used to support the purchase and maintenance of vehicles to transport students.
“Sinking funds have not been able to be used to purchase buses,” said Baszler. “It’s important for schools.”
These funds can be used for technology and facility upgrades, and site improvements without impacting the district’s operating budget.
“The ability to purchase buses would add one more dimension that would not come out of the general fund,” he said. “Those (general funds) would then be used directly to help our kids.”
Earlier this year, the district which currently has 19 school buses, purchased two 2019, 77 passengers gas-powered buses at a cost of $133,426 and one 2019, with a capacity of 77 passengers diesel powered bus at a cost of $76,239.
The three lease turn-in buses with factory warranties will replace older buses and be available.
By David Fleet