Brandywine joins long list of districts with sinking fund

Published 11:14 am Thursday, May 5, 2016

Brandywine Community Schools joins a long list of school districts both locally and statewide that can use a building site and sinking fund to pay for the construction and repair of school facilities.

On Tuesday, voters approved the district’s sinking fund proposal by a narrow margin of 289 to 250, according to unofficial results from Election Magic’s online website.

“We are obviously pleased with the results and glad we can move forward with budgeting the money for the projects we need to get done,” said Supt. John Jarpe.

Berrien County voters approved the proposal 232 to 201 while Cass County voters approved it by a 57 to 49 vote.

The result will allow Brandywine to levy one mill for the next 10 years from all properties in the Brandywine Community Schools district, generating approximately $270,000 in the first year.

Brandywine is one of several area school districts levying voter-approved sinking fund millages.

Niles levies one mill, while Buchanan levies .8 mill, Berrien Springs one mill and Cassopolis .8379 mill, to name a few.

According to state records from February, 170 of the state’s 545 school districts are levying sinking fund millages, generating an estimated $131 million statewide.

Sinking funds can pay for things like roof and parking lot repairs, but not for things like salaries, buses or instructional supplies.

Jarpe said administrative staff and the school board would assess and prioritize potential projects that could be addressed with sinking fund monies.

He said a major roof project is scheduled for next year and some parking lots are in need of repair.

“There is an endless list of things,” he said, adding that the sinking fund would free up general fund dollars for things like upgrading educational technology and instructional supplies.

Jarpe said sinking fund money does not have to be spent right away, so the district can save it for future projects.

A person whose home has a market value of $100,000 will pay approximately $50 a year for the sinking fund millage.