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R-P board reviews fiscal impacts for facility

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jun 28th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Education

The high school biology room was full Monday, June 24. Mayors from the cities of Rushford, Rushford Village, and Peterson, Rushford City Administrator Steve Sarvi, Senator Jeremy Miller, and several area residents were on hand to hear the results of a joint fiscal impact study.

The computerized model program, created and presented by consultant Mike Bubany, of David Drown Associates, allows users to “plug in” various scenarios for capital improvement projects in the cities. Variants such as the scope of plans, interest rates, and revenue streams can be reflected instantly through the model, giving a clear picture of what impact projects might have. As far as what impact a new school might have on the district, especially farmers within the Village, the impacts were enough to silence those in attendance, at least momentarily.

Some members of the school board and the cities’ councils had already seen the presentation back in May 29 at a fiscal impact work session. Superintendent Ehler called for it to be presented again to the full board. “It’s extremely important for all to be brought up to speed,” he noted.

“The concern is overlapping impacts on taxpayers,” stressed Bubany. “We can carefully structure this to mitigate and control impacts. We can carefully schedule spending not to exceed the tax base, but it will require careful budgeting.”

The impact of a residential property within the three cities certainly saw a spike when a $15 million school project is added to the mix. “This isn’t to say you’re not going to feel this is your pocketbook,” pointed out Bubany. However, the impacts to agricultural land were dramatic. “It’s usually the house, garage, and one acre, but for school projects they pay on all of it.”

Board Chair Angela Colbenson noted the one percent inflation Bubany had figured into the model and noted the agriculture parcels she owns with her husband are increasing anywhere from 13 to 20 percent for 2014. “Agricultural land values are highly increasing,” she noted. Bubany adjusted the rate in the model and it was clear the weight of the project would fall heavily on area farmers. “We can’t make it work because we don’t get enough state aid,” she added.

“I have no sense for farm economics,” responded Bubany, who noted tax rates were figured on a taxes to present value of asset formula. “I don’t know how to squeeze my mind around it, what it does. The effect on local taxpayers; that’s a big bite to chew.”

“I don’t know how to solve the dilemma of how to build or rehab this building, especially for ag,” added Colbenson. “It’s good to put these projects together so see what effect it might have.

In light of the effects, the district maintains hope that the state will come through with substantial assistance for its facilities.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Monday, July 8, at 5:30pm, in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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