LETTER: Spend Taxpayers Dollars Wisely

To the Editor:

The more we learn about the proposed bond referendum finances the more concerned we should be about the lack of financial analysis that has led the district to propose a $27 million referendum. The district wants to convert steam boilers to water heat, replace numerous doors and windows and proposes other energy saving projects which amount to over $10 million. After requesting the payback analysis over three weeks ago, we finally learn at the Oct 1 workshop that each year we will save $60,000 in energy costs. That is a whopping 1/2% annual return on the taxpayer’s investment. The cost of the bond is 3.1%. That is the equivalent of spending $167 to save $1. Yet there is no discussion on other, more economical, alternatives.

There has been no disclosure on the payback of closing the middle school; only costs to close the building and estimates of lost revenue due to students leaving. How much would be saved in operating costs if the building was closed? We only hear the emotions on this issue, not the facts.

As to the Education Finance Award and “clean” audited financial statements I say congratulations to the district and all involved. Audits provide a rather broad overview of an organizations financial health. There are many companies that had a good audit report only to file bankruptcy within a year. What the taxpayers need with regard to this referendum is different from an audit. Where is the cost analysis and financial discussion relating to $27 million of referendum projects? What assurances do we have that the requested new assets will be maintained any better than the current assets and where will that money come from without yet another referendum? Where is the strategic financial plan incorporating all the levies? The taxpayers should send the board and management back to the drawing boards to do some real financial due diligence instead of selectively picking the numbers they want to share with their bosses-the voters.

Dennis Hedtke