Bath eliminates bus route, adds another

By Lance Mihm -

LIMA — A bus routing change that would have served as a cost-saving change ended up allowing Bath schools to come out even on the matter after actions from another institution.

The school board approved a resolution to remove two bus runs from a four-run bus route with the middle/high school students. However, the cost savings expected will be enveloped in the creation of a two-run bus route for special-needs students after Marimor eliminated busing in the district three months ago.

“Essentially, we broke even,” Superintendent Dave Lewellen said.

Lewellen said bus drivers will be reorganized to handle the changes. While busing costs will remain roughly the same, time changes will impact scheduling with the different times of transporting the Marimor students. He said bus drivers had already been aware of the changes.

“This is a move we would have made anyways,” Lewellen said. “It was not made to offset the cost of the additional busing for the Marimor students.”

Lewellen said the district was able to eliminate the routes after fifth-graders were moved to the new elementary school. The move allowed the district to still fill current busing needs without the two extra runs.

In other business, the board approved a measure to put a 3.25 mill, property tax renewal on the ballot in November.

The tax for permanent improvements generates about $638,000 annually for the district. The money can be used for building, purchasing and maintaining property that has a more than five-year use.

Lewellen said the district is only asking for a renewal despite changes that resulted in losing about $140,000 in tangible personal property taxes that were lost to school districts last year because of state changes in tax codes.

Legislators voted in 2005 to start a four-year phaseout of the TPP. The move constituted a huge loss to school districts, with TPP being at least 20 percent of the tax base for 139 school districts. Schools have been reimbursed for those losses to some degree. However, it is at a gradually reduced rate. In 2015, the state reimbursed schools $420 million for lost tax revenue. Current budget proposals would drop the reimbursement to $181 million by 2017.

The new levy would go onto the tax list in 2017 and first be collected in 2018. The district is putting the levy on one year early for budget planning purposes.

By Lance Mihm

Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter@LanceMihm

Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter@LanceMihm

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