By Pat Culverhouse
Webster Parish School Board members adopted a formal policy Monday to place 10 percent of the parish’s fund balance in reserve to cover unexpected financial emergencies, with a goal of upping that figure to 15 percent in the future.
Bonding Attorney Grant Schlueter with Foley & Judell urged the board to make the move to help the parish maintain a favorable Standard & Poors (S&P) rating heading into renewal of a pair of ad valorem tax issues next year. Standard & Poor’s (S&P) is a leading index provider and data source of independent credit ratings.
“A higher bond rating means a lower interest rate and less burden on your taxpayers,” Schlueter told board members.
One area Schlueter said S&P considers when reviewing public body bonding is reduction in fund balance and the reserves to cover unforeseen circumstances. Currently, he said, Webster Parish is slightly below the 10 percent figure.
“That doesn’t effect the standing bond issues but it could impact the future,” he said. “There’s no penalty if you’re unable (to meet 10 percent) but it is considered prudent for unexpected emergencies.”
An official notice was read into the record detailing the school system’s plans to consider adopting a resolution at its Dec. 4 meeting “ordering and calling special elections” to authorize ad valorem tax renewals. One renewal will be considered for the Webster Parish School District; the other in Springhill School District No. 8.
In Springhill’s District 8, an “and/or” clause will be considered for the issuance of general obligation bonds. If the board votes to authorize, special elections will be held April 27, 2024.
During Monday’s meeting, board members voted to conduct a special meeting Monday, Nov. 13 to discuss stipend pay for school personnel and to talk about the system’s budget deficit.
Slightly more than $260,000 in repair and maintenance projects at parish schools received unanimous “in globo” approval from the board. Fund expenditures and projects included:
• $106,046 from the District 6 half-cent sales tax fund including $74,040 for controls project at Webster Jr. High; $10,948 to purchase a 60-inch Exmark mower for the new Minden High softball complex; $6,634 for ice machine at Minden High softball complex.
• $101,121 from the Doyline Maintenance Fund with the major expenditure of $65,854 to install various security gates and fences around the Doyline High School campus; $15,260 for HVAC repairs at Doyline High School.
• $34,130 from Springhill Maintenance Fund including $16,400 to repair a leaking overhead three-inch water main at the North Webster High School football stadium; $7,700 to replace a four-ton classroom HVAC at Brown Upper Elementary School; $6,120 to repair “sticking” classroom doors at Brown Upper Elementary.
• $18,182 from Consolidated District 3 Maintenance Fund. Purchases and projects include $6,634 for an ice machine for the football dressing room at Lakeside Jr./Sr. High School; $5,343 for a new scoreboard at the Lakeside Jr./Sr. High gymnasium; $3,300 to resurface gymnasium doors and trophy case at Lakeside Jr./Sr. High.