Evanston news delivered free to your inbox! 

Responding to the economic downturn, the District 202 School Board voted on April 20 to approve a revised Capital Improvement Program that encompasses planned expenditures of $3.8 million for FY 2010 and an additional $35.4 million planned through FY 2013.

The District had previously planned to spend $4.5 million on capital expenses in FY 2010. Improvements to the fieldhouse, estimated at $20 million, were delayed from FY 2011 to FY 2012, according to Chief Financial Officer William Stafford.

Mr. Stafford says part of the reason for the change is that half of the expected funds from the Downtown II TIF expiring in 2011 were originally earmarked for capital improvement projects. He had recommended at the March 9 Board meeting that those funds, totaling $1 million, be used for operating expenses instead.

Mr. Stafford made the recommendation because of a projected reduction in revenue resulting from the .1 percent Consumer Price Index (CPI) for 2008, an abnormally low figure.

Revenues for the District primarily derive from property taxes (81 percent) which are capped in accordance with the CPI.

Normally, the CPI is about 3-4 percent, said Mary Rodino, deputy financial officer, that results in a $2 to $3 million annual increase. Instead, because of the very low CPI, the increase in revenues for the 2011 fiscal year will be only $50,000.

The $1 million originally slated for capital expenses translates to “debt service of about $10 million over 20 years,” Mr. Stafford told The RoundTable. That means that for the $1 million that will come from the TIF, the District could have funded $10 million in bonds that could have been spent on capital improvements, such as the fieldhouse. Instead, it will fund $1 million of operating expenses in 2011, which will keep the District from being in a deficit position.

Because of this reassignment of revenues, the fieldhouse is now scheduled for remodeling in FY 2012 and will., it is hoped, be funded by a combination of bonds, private donations and grants, according to Mr. Stafford. “That’s three years out,” he said indicating that in the current economy it is difficult to be confident about projections that far in the future.

He did say that the fieldhouse is a project being pursued jointly with the City of Evanston, especially with regard to potential funds from the federal stimulus package. “We’re on as many federal lists as possible,” Mr. Stafford told The RoundTable.

Capital improvement projects, which were approved by the Board on April 20, to be funded in FY 2010 are as follows:

• Field Repair $1,085,000

• Stadium Bathrooms, Team Rooms and Concession Stands $685,250

• Multi-Purpose Storage $460,000 • Masonry and Roof Repair $345,000

• Drop-Off Parking and Bike Racks $310,000

• Fire Alarm System $290,000

• Small Buses/Vehicles 287,000

• LEED Building Study and Solar Technology $205,000

• New Website $115,000