Trego School -Why have a building reserve fund?

As we wrote about earlier this year, the school board had decided to use a permissive levy to establish a building reserve fund. One of the requirements of the permissive levy is that “The projects must be listed and the priority for projects are listed on the Facility Condition Report under their deficiency categories. Those need addressed first.”

Not a fan of permissive levies? The school board election is coming up in May.

To find out what that means, we have to go to the Facility Condition Report. Back in 2008 the state of Montana arranged for every k12 building in the state to be inspected and its condition reported on. While these reports are theoretically public information, and publicly available, chasing down anything the government did over a decade ago is a bit of a challenge. A few government agencies and several emails later, I obtained copies of the original reports.

Looking at the 2008 report makes the need for a building reserve fund obvious. The school building proper has a deficiency ratio of 30.1%. The statewide report considered buildings with deficiency ratios greater than 20% to be in poor condition, and those greater than 50% to be in such bad shape that replacement might actually be preferable to repair.

The classrooms on the right side of the school entrance were originally portable classrooms and rest atop a “walkout” basement.

While some of the items in the report are minor- things that need paint or other simple repairs, not everything is that straight forward. The report describes the stair treads/risers as 100% deficient, stating that “Stair flight is settling or the under-structure physically failing”. On the same page, another description remarked that “Floor strength integrity of portable structures is questionable”. Trego School was constructed in response to the large flood of people associated with the tunnel, and included several portable classrooms, two of which remain in use today.

The roof system also included a 100% deficiency rating; “Condition observed: History of leaks; seams separating, punctured, or lifting at edges”. The estimated cost to repair, back in 2008? $29,365.

The school board will be meeting Wednesday, March 10th, at 4PM. The meeting can be attended long-distance. The Agenda (available in the post office) includes the building reserve. Those interested in attending can do so via the Gotomeeting App.

Want to see the school facilities condition inventory for yourself? I’d be happy to share what I received from the state- otherwise, Richard Knatterud ( of the department of commerce was the person who provided me with copies.


Trego School Enrollment Grows- Also, Taxes

The last school board meeting had the announcement of 3 more students this semester. That’s an increase from 23 students to 26, or a 13% increase in enrollment since Fall. School enrollment remains something to be watched closely, given the previous trend.

Trego school’s enrollment graph from previous article

The increased enrollment fit with reading the Budget Amendment Resolution

the trustees have determined that an amendment to the state elementary fund budget in the amount of $25,584.05 is necessary . . . for the purpose of properly maintaining and supporting the district due to an increase in enrollment that was beyond what could reasonably have been anticipated at the time of the adoption of the budget for the current school fiscal year; and the anticipated source of financing the budget amendment expenditures shall be additional state assistance through direct state aid.”

The second financial decision was to direct the clerk to establish a permissive levy for a building reserve fund.  The basis for the building reserve fund shared with the board members was:

Permissive levy in Sub Fund 613 which includes:

1. State Major Maintenance Aid (SMMA)
SMMA amount is $15,000 + $100xprior year ANB (22) = $17,200

2. Permissive Levy which can’t exceed 10.000 mills per fiscal year (a mill is 1/1000 of taxable value (TV/1000) Taxable valuation for the district in 2021 is $1,932,429. 1,932,429/1000 = $1931 mill x 10 = $19,310
Tax impact on property: levied mills x property’s taxable value/1000
Districts must first levy 10 mills and then can budget non-levy revenues or legal transfers (some restrictions apply)  Need to look into if we can transfer from a non budgeted fund (15) to building reserve.

3. The projects must be listed and the priority for projects are listed on the Facility Condition Report under their deficiency categories. Those need addressed first. “

A few translations: The state is willing to give aid that can be used for maintenance. The amount will be $15,000 plus the prior year’s enrollment (22) multiplied by $100. Thus, $15,000 + $2,200 = $17,200 that can be expected from the state.

Permissive levy- this is a levy that does not require a vote by the public. In this instance, MCA 20-9-502 allows a school board to impose no more than a 10 mill level per fiscal year to go towards the building reserve. The school expects to get $19,310 out of this.

What this actually means for your taxes? School district 53’s market value is assessed at $114,462,957. The taxable property value is set at $1,932,429 – a little less than 2% of the market value. Consequently, the math is 10 x taxable value/1000 – if your taxable value is $1000, the additional tax will be $10, if your taxable value is $10,000, the additional tax will be $100, and so on.

Lastly, anything they use that money for has to be on the Facility Condition Inventory and has to be addressed in order of priority. The Facility Condition Inventory comes via state inspection, so what to fix and in what order isn’t determined by anyone local. The most current Facility Condition Inventory that was available is dated 1/24/2008 – so it appears to be high time to look at getting some maintenance done.