The Waunakee school board’s budget committee has reached a recommendation regarding the renovation project expected to take place at Warrior Soccer Stadium this summer.
Capital-improvement funds should be used for the district’s share of project costs to replace the soccer field.
“We already have the dollars,” said superintendent Randy Guttenberg. “I mean… as I look at our larger budget picture, if there’s dollars already placed there without us incurring any other costs, then that seems to be the place we should go.”
The committee’s recommendation followed consideration of the various options that the district has in paying for new grass turf – the minimum investment it would need to make in the project.
One option the committee discussed was drawing from the district’s general fund, Fund 10.
The most recent treasurer’s report listed the fund balance at $6,778,702. According to the report, that’s approximately 13.3 percent of 2019-20 general-fund operating expenditures.
“I don’t think Fund (10) should be attacked at all,” said committee chair and school-board treasurer Mark Hetzel. “I don’t think that should even be a question. We’re third-lowest of the 10 schools, according to Forecast5. And in terms of replacing that number, it’s a lot harder to do.”
Superintendent Randy Guttenberg agreed with the treasurer’s assessment.
“We’re not adding a lot more to Fund 10 right now,” Guttenberg said. “So as you start to move that down, the ability to replenish it becomes harder – unless our picture of our finances changes, which I don’t anticipate in the short term.”
Another option committee members considered was borrowing the money and paying it back over a 5- to 10-year period, with payments beginning in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
Committee member Dave Boetcher explained why the approach was poor strategy.
“I think it’s a horrible idea if we’re about to do a referendum,” Boetcher said. “In effect, we have to pay for it in a borrowing situation when we’re about to do a borrowing situation… You’ve paid (tens of thousands in interest) in the end. That seems silly.”
The final option members discussed was pulling from Fund 41, the capital-improvements fund, which should have a balance of $1.85 million at the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
Administration has recommended no funds be removed from the account since 2017.
However, Guttenberg said the fund balance had finally reached a level where the school board could consider utilizing it for various projects such as renovations to Warrior Soccer Stadium.
“One of the benefits of this is that we have the money,” Guttenberg said, “so it’s really just an allocation in deciding that’s how we would do that. Just for discussion’s sake, if it was a half-million dollars, then we would just basically be down to a balance of $1.3 million.”
Boetcher said he saw no choice but to draw from the capital-improvements fund.
“I don’t really see much of an option other than Fund 41,” Boetcher said, “or putting it in the referendum. And we already said ‘no’ to the referendum.”
Committee chair Mark Hetzel concurred.
“If we’re looking at funding just our own share,” Hetzel said, “I agree with Dave. I say Fund 41 (the capital-improvements fund) is where we should go. In another year, that’s going to be replaced almost entirely.”
The committee unanimously agreed to a recommendation that the district utilize Fund 41 for its share of the project costs, and then finance the fundraising group through Fund 38 if need be.
Rettler has estimated that the turf replacement will cost between $800,000 and $1.275 million.
A capital campaign is also underway to replace the field with an artificial turf; the school district would provide the amount for a sod turf replacement.