Can we fundraise for the money instead of running the bond?
It has been brought up that we could fundraise to get the proposed money to fund some of the infrastructure needs of the district. There is much to discuss on this topic but here is some basic information about it.
Montana school finance is set up in a way to receive funding from various sources: federal government, state government, local taxpayers, etc. When certain circumstances arise, a school district can either impose a permissive levy, a voted levy (criteria set by state law), or a bond measure. This system is how all public schools have to abide by to receive funding. Each school district will then set what they deem as being best to give the students of their district the best education they can give.
When a voted bond measure is initiated by a school district, it is up to the voters to approve the bonds for the school district to receive that money. If the voters do not approve the bonds, the district does not receive that money and will have to figure out a way to educate their students without that money.
So can people just fundraise and give money to the district instead of voting for the Bond?
The answer is yes. Donations can be given to the district but there are some stipulations to this. First, the money needs to specifically state what the money will be used for (Ex: General Fund, Building Reserve, Baseball Uniforms, Buildings, etc.). Secondly, the board of trustees has to accept the donation. The board of trustees always has the right to not accept the donation if it does not fit into the policies of the district or if it does not fit the direction of the district.
So what happens if the bond passes, can the fundraised money be used to lower the property taxes?
The answer is yes but there are steps that would have to be taken. If the bonds pass, the district always has the ability to offset debt service levies with money legally available for such purpose or if the bonds are callable, the district can decide to prepay bonds early. So in order to make this happen, the following would have to happen. First, the money would need to be given to the district stating the specific purpose (Ex: Used to offset existing debt). Second, the board of trustees would have to accept the donation. Third, the district would then determine to either offset debt service levies or pay debt early as applicable, which would have the effect of decreasing the amount of property taxes for each taxpayer.
So what happens if the bond doesn't pass and the money is not raised?
If the bond is not passed, the district will not get that money and critical needs will continue to grow.
How much would each person pay if we wanted to raise all of the bonded money?
This is almost impossible to figure out. It would all depend on how many people donated to the cause and if the money was available for either Elementary or HS projects. But let's say that there are 3,500 people willing to donate, each person would have to pay $15,714.28 to reach that goal. This number would either go down or up depending on how many people were able to donate.
Questions? Please Contact:
Stephen Schreibeis at 406-377-5339 or firstname.lastname@example.org