The Menomonee Falls school district has a $200,000 bright idea that will help the district go green in more ways than one.
The district will move forward with a project to retrofit the lighting at North Middle School to reap long-term financial benefits from energy savings. First and foremost, the retrofitted lighting will improve what’s currently in place at North. The district also projects an annual energy savings of $23,000 per year with the new lighting.
The funding for the project will come from the district’s fund balance, which is the difference between the district’s total assets and its liabilities. The overall 0.5 percent decrease in the tax levy will stay the same.
“This is a one-time expenditure so it’s not a recurring cost. Our fund balance is still strong and will remain at 18 percent,” said Director of Business Services Jeff Gross “It’s not something we want to continue to do, but for one time projects and the energy savings, this makes it an appropriate use of fund balance.”
Originally, the district would have needed to utilize a revenue limit exemption to fund the retrofit. A revenue limit exemption allows the district to increase its revenue limit by the amount spent for energy efficiency projects. The district’s Finance Committee decided a revenue exemption wasn’t the ideal means to fund the project.
“Using the revenue limit exemption just wasn’t an appropriate and fiscal way to fund this, so we reevaluated our approach,” said School Board Member David Noshay.
By using the fund balance rather than the exemption, the district saved roughly $33,000 in additional engineering costs that are required by the state. The district will also work to obtain a $7,500 “Focus on Energy” incentive.
Administrators freed up extra room in the levy by switching course on the project. Gross said they’d use that extra room to increase its prepayment of debt from $125,000 to $360,000. Prepaying debt saves the district to avoid future interest costs on the debt it has borrowed.