By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – The final payment for a 20-year general obligation bond issued by the Water Valley School District in 1998 will be paid in May and school trustees are taking preliminary steps to issue new bonds next year to make improvements at the schools.
Board members met with Young Law Group attorney V. Warren Greenlee at Monday night’s school board meeting to determine a potential timeline and necessary steps to borrow money to address a lengthy list of school improvements that include installing a new roof on the elementary school, adding new heating and cooling units in both school gyms, renovating bath rooms, making security enhancements, replacing air conditioners in class rooms along with other needs.
Greenlee explained that the school has levied millage to pay approximately $150,000 annually to retire the 1998 bonds. Based on that amount, Greenlee estimated the school district could borrow $2 million without raising taxes.
The potential timeline starts with immediate planning to identify the needs. Issuing the general obligation bonds would also require a referendum that could be scheduled in the fall and would require support from 60 percent of the voters who live in the district and turn out for the election. The next step would be to be get bid packages out by next February so that work could start as soon as the 2018-19 school year comes to a close next May.
With the lengthy timeline, school trustees also identified a secondary funding source, issuing a 3 mill note in the coming months, in addition to issuing general obligation bonds next year. Funding from the 3 mill note, which is a funding option in Mississippi that allows school districts to levy a new property tax of up to three mills without issuing bonds, would pay for work at the schools that cannot be delayed for another year.
Trustees noted that an existing 3 mill note issued in 2010 will be retired next year and will free up mills for the new 3 mill note.
Following the discussion, trustees agreed to continue working on details for the financing.
Other business conducted at the meeting included:
• Presented a certificate of excellence to the school’s business office manager, Randy Goodwin, on behalf of the Office of the State Auditor after the school received a clean audit from the 2016-17 school year.
“They don’t come much better than Mr. Goodwin, he shows up to work early and stays late and I never have to worry about money,” Superintendent Dr. Michael McInnis noted after the presentation.
• Heard an audit report from the 2016-17 school year from Cunningham CPAs PLLC.
“Randy does a great job. This is my first year in this district, but we audit schools all over the state. Some of the largest and some of the smallest,” Joel Cunningham told trustees before providing an overview of the audit.
“It is a clean audit,” Cunningham added. The audit showed the fund balance had increased $103,000, growing to $1.4 million at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2017.