Baird Vice President Jordan Masnica provided a detailed presentation to the Wautoma Area School Board on how Baird works with school districts to finance facility projects during their monthly meeting on Sept. 12 at Parkside School.

Mesnica stated Baird has been working WASD for years and provides financial advice and services. By offering this presentation, Mesnica said he is able to assist the Board in providing talking points to the community when questions arise as to where the funding for the Riverview Elementary Facility Project would come from.

Mesnica began his presentation by explaining the different types of facility priorities that school districts often face, from the lowest end of a boiler repair to the higher end of either a major remodel/addition or an entirely new school. He explained there are two ways to fund projects, either operational funds or through borrowed funds. With a project of the size of either renovating and updating Riverview Elementary or building a new school, Mesnica stated that this type of project could not be funded through operational funds, therefore the school district would have to levy taxpayers by going to referendum to issue municipal bonds to fund the project.

At this time, Mesnica presented a breakdown of the 2021-2022 school tax levy to the Board as the 2022-2023 levy has not been finalized yet. While explaining what goes into the levy, he said the Revenue Limit ($7,002,724), Energy Efficiency Debt ($427,838), Community Service ($200,000), and Referendum Approved Debt ($0) totals the tax levy, which was $7,630,562 for the 2021-2022 school year. At this time, the last referendum approved debt was passed in 1992 and was paid off during the 2011-2012 school year.

Mesnica went on to explain the mill rate comparison taxpayers would face if voters approved a Spring 2023 referendum to either renovate and update the current Riverview Elementary School or build an entirely new building. Historically, the mill rate for WASD keeps dropping and last year even though the state average was at $8.67, the WASD was over $2.00 lower than the state average at $6.42.

Mesnica also provided a projected mill rate for each type of Riverview Elementary Project, assuming 20-year borrowing and a conservative interest rate of 4.75%. At this time, the maximum mill rate increase per $1,000 property valuation for an updated and renovated Riverview Elementary School would be $1.50 or $150.00 on a $100,000 home, while the maximum mill rate increase per $1,000 property valuation for a new building would be $1.97 or $197.00 on a $100,000 home.

Following the presentation, the Board approved the Community Survey to be sent out to district property owners in October. This survey will provide taxpayers more information regarding the Riverview Elementary Facility Project as well as what the impact would be for all property owners.