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Trustees send budget to taxation

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group

Churchill County School District trustees approved the 2020-2021 budget May 27 to be sent to the Nevada Department of Taxation but decided against leasing new vehicles.

In April, the school board approved a tentative budget, but Phyllys Dowd, director of Business Services, said the Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA) will be reduced by about $89 per student, thus amounting in a loss of under $300,000.

Dowd said the superintendent’s plans to reorganize the district staff and the attrition of staff are resulting in a savings. Additionally, the school district’s ending fund balance that carries over is almost $6.5 million. She told trustees she hopes there aren’t further reductions from the state.

In her letter to the Nevada Department of Taxation, the budget contains two funds including debt service and will require property tax revenues totaling $10,619,580.

“The budget contains 11 governmental fund types with estimated expenditures of $45,492,407 and one proprietary fund type with estimated expenditures of $439,250,” she stated in her letter.

After a lengthy discussion on leasing new vehicles to replace an aging fleet of cars, vans and trucks, trustees decided to scrap the proposal and voted against it. The first presentation outlining the leasing of white fleet vehicles came at the March 11 board meeting. At that board meeting, Dowd said about 94 percent of the current fleet is 10 years or older, and 20.9 years is the average age of the fleet. Dowd said analysis shows the school district would reduce its fuel costs by about 35% over a decade.

Furthermore, she said the school district would anticipate a reduction in mileage reimbursements because of newer vehicles the staff would feel comfortable in driving for out-of-town meetings and trainings. Additionally, she said the new vehicles would be more efficient with fuel consumption, and warranties would cover maintenance performed by local mechanics.

Trustee Carmen Schank expressed her doubts about leasing vehicles in March, other board members at the recent meeting also hesitated to commit the school district to leasing.

“We’d be shooting ourselves in the food if we did this,” trustee Fred Buckmaster said.

Buckmaster questioned why the school district would want to lease and then have its maintenance done by private mechanics. He said this would cost the school district more money.

Schank pointed out that a majority of vehicles are used for the transportation, maintenance and warehouse departments. The trustee said she did her homework in analyzing costs.

“There are no benefits,” she said. “Our mechanics do it cheaper. We get no write-offs because we’re a government agency.”

Schank, who had other trustees beginning to concur, said leasing is too great a cost to the citizens of the community.

“I don’t like the direction we’re going,” she said, adding the school district needs to devise its own plan for vehicle replacement.

Trustees Phil Pinder and Tricia Strasdin said the district needs to meet its obligations in providing vehicles that are not high mileage and to implement a plan.

“I agree with Phil and Carmen to put together a plan and do it ourselves,” said President Matt Hyde. “I don’t want to contract out, but we need a couple of vans.”