Published at PO Box 96 124 W. St. Clair Romeo, MI 48065. Phone: (586)752-3524 Fax: (586)752-0548
Updated Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 3 PM EST
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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 10/09/13
Bond would raise $5.1
million for 54 new buses
by CHRIS GRAYIn a month's time, voters will choose whether or not to support a $5.1 million bond that would replace all buses for Romeo Community Schools.
Observer Staff Writer
The school district is proposing a nine-year, .47 millage on the Nov. 5 ballot that would collect $5.1 million dollars to purchase 54 new buses.
A community forum will be held regarding the bus bond 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the Romeo High School media center.
The average age of the fleet is over 11 years, with an average mileage of 184,000 miles on the 10 oldest buses. Superintendent Nancy Campbell said people have supported the bond effort since they know that old buses negatively affect the school day.
"Every group that I've spoken to thus far has been extremely receptive," she said. "They understand the need."
She said there were about 15 buses that were "red tagged" in the spring bus audit, meaning they suffered from issues like broken taillights and rust. As of last week, five buses were in need of repair.
"Our bus drivers do a thorough check of their buses before they ever leave the yard in the morning, but just like anyone else, on our way to work a light can go out, things can happen," Campbell said.
Executive Director of Business Affairs David Massoglia said the district spends about $300,000 a year on bus repairs, up from paying $150,000 two years ago. He expects that amount to decrease should new buses enter the fleet.
"It's hard to say how much it'll drop because we'll still need some repairs, but it's going to be substantially less," he said. "We're putting good money into buses we probably shouldn't be just to keep them rolling."
Similar to the 2012 technology bond, the bus bond is considered a "no-increase" proposal since the district will drop outstanding debt incurred from the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center and Hevel Elementary.
This retiring debt means the new bond would not result in higher taxes for homeowners. Should the nine-year bond pass, the millage would remain at 4.05 mills in 2013-14 and continue to decrease if no further debt is incurred.
The bond would cost an average of $40 a year for a home with a $200,000 market value and taxable value of $100,000.
"I think our community has been extremely supportive of our students and our district," Campbell said. "I think they see us as good stewards of their money and that we're spending wisely for the kids."
Should the bond pass, the district would seek to replace the oldest buses first. Campbell said she expects about a dozen buses would be ordered shortly after receiving the funding.
"They would be purchased 10 or 12 a year because, just like anything else, you don't want it all to expire at the same time," she said.
Buses cost anywhere from $90,000 to $110,000. Phase one of the bond would spend $3.1 million to replace 32 buses with new ones, and three years after that, phase two would kick in to spend the remainder on 22 buses.
Campbell said none of the funding from the bond could be used for labor, maintenance or parts. She said the old buses will be taken apart for parts or sold off in auctions for the upkeep of the new buses.
Massoglia said the district has to consider the 88 square miles of dirt roads when deciding which models would be purchased.
"We won't be able to buy the greenest bus due to the conditions of the road, they're not making them viable for those roads at this time," he said.
Residents with questions can contact the Transported for Success citizen committee at (586) 260-1908.
In recent history, residents passed a $16.4 million technology bond but voted down two others<a $8.3 million "tech'n'turf" bond in 2010 and a $93 million bond in 2007 that would've paid for improvements to technology, buses, facilities and technology.
The sinking fund and operating millage, on the other hand, have been consistently approved by voters.