Oak Creek South Routt School District leaders are working diligently to secure emergency funds to cover the impact of lost revenue from a missed Peabody Energy property tax payment.
South Routt’s Board of Education heard Tuesday from Superintendent Darci Mohr, who outlined several potential sources of funding and a plan for moving forward.
The district is facing a cashflow issue related to about $1 million in property tax revenue that’s gone uncollected from Peabody.
Mohr said the Colorado Department of Education will front the district its entire 2016-17 per-pupil funding allocation, about $1.3 million, in July to help the district.
CDE also is encouraging the State Board of Education to award the district as much as $1 million from its contingency fund to help with South Routt’s lost revenue. The state board will consider the matter at its next meeting Thursday, July 7.
“They understand the magnitude of the dilemma we are in,” Mohr said of CDE’s support for the contingency funds.
If the district were awarded money from the state board, the district would be expected to pay back the money if it did collect the missed property tax payments within five years.
“If we get the money, we would obviously pay that back,” Mohr said.
Mohr said it also was a possibility that the State Board of Education’s contingency fund would be replenished in early 2017, freeing up more money for South Routt to request.
South Routt has also become ineligible for the state’s interest-free loan program, which typically helps them bridge cashflow issues around November of each year, because now the district is seen as being unable to pay the loan back.
The district is working with legislators to look at revising the specifics of the loan program to take into consideration the district’s inability to collect unpaid property taxes.
Mohr told board members to remain positive about the situation.
“I feel very confident that we will continue to get the help we need to continue to be a very viable, thriving South Routt School District and community,” Mohr said. “We’re going to keep fighting.”
Board President Jules Palyo thanked Mohr and others for their work springing into action to address the sudden financial crisis the district is facing.
“There are a lot of people on our side that have our back,” Palyo said.
Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrgian said earlier Tuesday that he was sure the community would help the district remain operational.
“I’m really confident that we’re going to get this figured out,” Corrigan said.
To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow