Editorial: Do the right thing on capital reserve fund

05/16/2014 6:00 AM |

Oysterponds school board

For the third time in three years, Oysterponds School District voters will be asked to allow the school board to create a capital reserve fund. If such a fund is approved, the district would be able to move year-end savings and existing surpluses into an account dedicated solely to facility repairs or upgrades.

A similar measure was rejected by voters in 2012 and 2013 — most recently by a margin of just 12 votes.

But there are few drawbacks in passing the proposition. In fact, rejecting a capital improvement fund for a third time could result in the district continuing to maintain district surpluses that are higher than state law allows and put some of the district’s state aid at risk. Meanwhile, a second proposition on this year’s ballot would allow the Oysterponds board to spend $150,000 to begin repairing the school’s windows. That expenditure would still leave about $550,000 in the district’s savings, which Superintendent Richard Malone has said is about $220,000 more than the state allows districts to hold.

If voters approve the capital reserve fund, those extra savings could be transferred and, thus, fulfill the state’s requirement.

Also, being able to tap into a capital reserve fund for future projects would allow the district to spend money it already has, instead of borrowing and paying interest.

Residents concerned about how the money might be used should take solace in knowing that any proposed spending from the reserve fund would also require voter approval.

Those who are concerned about being overtaxed, or who would rather have a tax rebate, need to let that be known in a constructive manner by, say, writing letters, showing up at school board meetings or circulating and signing petitions.

Simply rejecting the same proposition year after year, keeping everything at a standstill, only creates more problems.