WCS voters to decide whether to lease buses

WARRENSBURG-A special vote on whether to lease three 66-passenger school buses is set for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 in the High School Gym lobby.

School officials decided to hold the vote on the bus acquisition so they will be able to have accurate figures in the school budget rather than merely estimates.

If the school district leases three buses, the annual payment over five years for the new buses will be $49,000, which includes an estimated finance charge, and will receive a state rebate of about $41,650 annually for five years beginning in the 2012-13 school year.

Purchase of the new buses, however, will require an expense of $313,604 included in next year's budget. The state would rebate 85 percent of the cost, or about $53,300 annually for five years.

Superintendent of Schools Tim Lawson noted this week that buses are a large part of the annual budget, and if the district can realize a savings of over $260,000 this year by leasing, this money can be used to defer expenses in other areas.

This is Year No. 2 of the Board of Education's five-year plan to lease instead of purchase buses, as voters approved a similar leasing proposition last year. Lawson said leasing greatly reduces up-front expenses, and helps control repair costs. State transportation aid of 85 percent is the same if the district leases or purchases, he said.

Leasing also allows the district to return the buses before they start to deteriorate and need replacement parts, Lawson said.

The proposed leased buses would replace three buses which range in mileage from 83,970 miles to 101,435 as of two weeks ago. All three have required extensive factory repairs over the past few years, Lawson said. The oldest is a 2001 model and requires several thousand dollars of factory repairs in the last several years.

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