WARRENSBURG-A special vote on whether to lease three 66-passenger school buses is set for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 in the High School Gym lobby.
School officials decided to hold the vote on the bus acquisition so they will be able to have accurate figures in the school budget rather than merely estimates.
If the school district leases three buses, the annual payment over five years for the new buses will be $49,000, which includes an estimated finance charge, and will receive a state rebate of about $41,650 annually for five years beginning in the 2012-13 school year.
Purchase of the new buses, however, will require an expense of $313,604 included in next year's budget. The state would rebate 85 percent of the cost, or about $53,300 annually for five years.
Superintendent of Schools Tim Lawson noted this week that buses are a large part of the annual budget, and if the district can realize a savings of over $260,000 this year by leasing, this money can be used to defer expenses in other areas.
This is Year No. 2 of the Board of Education's five-year plan to lease instead of purchase buses, as voters approved a similar leasing proposition last year. Lawson said leasing greatly reduces up-front expenses, and helps control repair costs. State transportation aid of 85 percent is the same if the district leases or purchases, he said.
Leasing also allows the district to return the buses before they start to deteriorate and need replacement parts, Lawson said.
The proposed leased buses would replace three buses which range in mileage from 83,970 miles to 101,435 as of two weeks ago. All three have required extensive factory repairs over the past few years, Lawson said. The oldest is a 2001 model and requires several thousand dollars of factory repairs in the last several years.
"The district's planned bus replacement system keeps the fleet safe and fresh while making wise use of limited resources," Lawson said.
If voters vote in favor of leasing, the district will competitively bid the financing of the lease in order to secure the lowest possible rate, school officials said.
The lease will have a 70,000-mile limit per bus. At the end of the five-year lease, the district will exchange the buses for new ones and may negotiate new leases and new financing, with a deduction for trade-in value. It is the Board's intention, with voter approval, to convert the bulk of the fleet to leases.
A voter at the special election must be 18, a U.S. citizen, and a resident of the Warrensburg School District for 30 days preceding the election.