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Board grapples with what to do with leftover money

June 8, 2009

Elmbrook School Board members are expected to discuss Tuesday whether leftover contingency dollars should be returned to taxpayers or spent on more improvements to Brookfield high schools.

It's a question currently valued at more than $1.6 million, and the School Board is split on the issue.

Contingency funding comes from construction efficiencies. When work costs less than expected, the leftover dollars are set aside to fund any other work that costs more than expected.

As work wraps up and the need for contingency funds becomes less, those dollars can be spent on additional improvements - or they could be saved and returned to taxpayers in the form of lower property taxes in future years.

School Board members in favor of returning the money say voters approved a specific construction design and nothing more. If that design can be built for less money than anticipated, those dollars should be refunded.

Those in favor of spending leftover money say voters approved a specific price tag. If construction can be completed more efficiently than expected, the leftover money should be used for its designated purpose: to improve the district's high school facilities.

Projects that could be funded with contingency dollars include leveling the Brookfield Central High School band room floor for $240,000 or replacing the gymnasium floor for $130,000. At Brookfield East High School, $34,000 of the contingency money could be spent to upgrade the library media center or $18,000 to upgrade dark rooms.

The School Board will discuss how contingency money should be used, as well as to what degree the board should oversee use of the funds, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Elmbrook Central Administrative Offices, 13780 Hope St., Brookfield.

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