School board to save taxpayers $400,000

Jane Bitting.
Photo by Lauren M. Wilson.

The Huntington County Community School Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to save Huntington County taxpayers $400,000 on Wednesday night, April 10.

The savings will come from the refinancing of bonds.

Todd Samuelson, of Umbaugh & Associates, explained to the board that the roughly $400,000 savings they will see after the bond sale could be put to use in one of two ways, either by reducing the community's tax payments over the next four years - by asking taxpayers across the region to pay $100,000 less in taxes in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 - or by accepting the savings as cash into the corporation's Capital Projects Fund.

School Board President Kevin Patrick moved to accept the funds as cash, and add them to the Capital Projects Fund. Member Ben Landrum, District 3, seconded the motion, but the motion was overturned as the remaining school board members voted against it.

School board member Scott Hoffman, District 1, said he wanted to see the money given back to the taxpayers.

"Four hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money back in their pockets," he noted.

School board member Tom King, District 5, added that he didn't want to see the board save money by refinancing the bonds only to spend those funds on something else.

In spite of Superintendent Tracey Shafer's reminder to the board that many upcoming projects need funding - such as repaving the east parking lot at Huntington North High School, replacing the roof at Northwest Elementary and keeping up with technology expenses - the move to put the $400,000 in the Capital Projects Fund was rejected.

Instead, taxpayers will pay less to the corporation over the next four years.

Also approved was the hiring of a new assistant principal at Huntington North High School, Jane Bitting. Bitting is currently the professional development coach at the high school.

In other business:

• Shafer reported a 92 percent passing rate on the iRead tests for the corporation. The state standard is 90 percent. He noted that Lancaster and Roanoke elementary school students earned a 100 percent and 98 percent passing rate, respectively.

• Jon Bennett, assistant superintendent for business and classified staff, reported the General Fund has a cash balance of $2,168,000; Capital Projects Fund has a negative balance of $599,000; and the Transportation Fund has a balance of "a little over $1 million."

• The sale of the Instructional Service Center building is in limbo as the board waits to hear from city and county officials, either confirming or denying their interest in using the building.