Bright Idea Could Save District $23K Annually at North

The district's Finance Committee found a new way to fund a $200,000 lighting project at North Middle School. The project will save the district energy costs in the long run.

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.

Steve ® October 10, 2012 at 07:40 PM
What are they installing, T5?
Craig October 10, 2012 at 08:02 PM
There is a Texas based firm of investors who will retrofit lighting at no cost to the building owner. The LED lighting saves $ every year, in exchange for the retrofit, the investors get half of the energy savings for ten years. This would cost the district nothing in up front cost.
Carl Engelking October 10, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Not sure what specifically they are installing. I could get that if you'd like. Or maybe this is a joke that went over my head....
atthec44 October 10, 2012 at 08:28 PM
WEAC probably wouldn't allow that.
Carl Engelking October 10, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Perhaps that's something to share with the board or Mr. Gross....
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) October 10, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Are we buying truckloads of Obama autographed CFLs?
Steve ® October 11, 2012 at 12:23 AM
No joke. T5 is a florescent bulb size. It is becoming more cost effective and is super bright yet is pretty energy efficient. I can't see them going LED just yet the costs are still too high. I see most gyms have dumped their MH lighting for T5. Your standard florescent lighting is T8 or even older T12.
Steve ® October 11, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Michele Divelbiss October 11, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I saw the maintenance guy, Mark, at Valley View yesterday and he said the lights there will have to be changed as well. The lights currently in use will no longer be manufactured. I think it's all just a huge gift from the current White House administration to companies like GE. Individuals, businesses, or school districts can make decisions to be more efficient...or wait, these really become mandates from an administration that uses executive orders rather than legislation to control our choices. I do't have a problem with better equipment. I just don't like it being forced upon us.


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