East Allen County Schools no longer has the funds for any projects required for upkeep to its buildings, according to a budget presentation at Tuesday night's board meeting by Business Manager Kirby Stahly.
"(The funding levels are) a true reflection of the current economy," Stahly said Tuesday.
Building maintenance is paid for out of the capital projects fund, a fund that is supported by local property taxes. Declining assessed values and property tax caps have put a strain on districts around the state.
Stahly reported Tuesday the district will only have enough money for simple, regular maintenance, but no major projects or renovations. Last year, the district operated with a deficit in the fund of close to $2 million, which was pulled from the district's cash reserves.
Instead of using its savings, Stahly asked the board for input on using General Obligation or GO bonds to perform upcoming roof and HVAC projects. The bond amounts are low enough so that they don't require a referendum.
Stahly said the bond would be under $2 million and paid off over a span of two to three years. He said only one would be issued at a time and paid for out of the debt service fund.
Board members Rick Algier and Neil Reynolds expressed concern about raising taxes on constituents. If the bond is paid for out of debt service, that fund is also supported by local property taxes and has no levy cap. East Allen currently has the lowest tax rate of all districts in the county.
Algier expressed frustration that the board committed to purchasing iPads using funds from capital projects.
"No one ever came out and said this is going to affect regular maintenance on our buildings," he said. "Maybe we should have spent less on iPads."
Much of the maintenance needed are for buildings in Adams Township, including the New Haven and Harding attendance areas. District residents voted down a referendum in May proposed by the district for construction.
The district has proposed community meetings to gather input on the district's direction in those attendance areas since the referendum was voted down.
Other board news
The board held its annual reorganizational meeting Tuesday, electing member Janice Witte to serve as president; Neil Reynolds as vice president and Terry Jo Lightfoot will serve as secretary.
Board member Alyssa Lewandowski attended her first board meeting in months. She said she used a personal vacation day to attend the meeting, after having just obtained vacation time from her new job. Lewandowski works second shift and has been unable to attend most of the board meetings since starting at her new job, but has kept up board happenings.
She's been a member since 2008 and said she plans to stay on the board until the end of her term, despite accusations in a local paper that she was placing her personal interests over those of her constituents, she said.