Tupper Lake school district wants to buy two buses

TUPPER LAKE – Like it has for the last few years, the Tupper Lake Central School District is asking its residents to approve a proposition to let the district buy two school buses.

If enough voters OK it, the district would be able to buy up to two 66-passenger buses at a maximum combined cost of $230,500.

The district has had similar questions on the ballot the last few years and it hasn’t had a problem passing.

District Business Manager Garry Lanthier talked about the proposition at Monday night’s school board meeting, saying he hopes the voters approve the plan.

“We get the two buses for six years at a cost of about $4,000 a year,” Lanthier told the Enterprise in a phone interview. “You can’t beat that.”

The buses would be paid for with a five-year serial bond. Lanthier said the district paid 1.94 percent interest on the buses it bought last year.

About $150,000 of that would be paid back in state aid, with the district getting 65 cents on the dollar.

Lanthier noted that payments on the buses wouldn’t likely start until the 2014-15 budget year, and if there’s a payment during the 2013-14 budget year, it will likely be about $3,000 worth of interest.

“That’s it,” Lanthier said. “It’s not part of that $7 million tax levy. So hopefully people realize it’s a good investment.”

The bus replacement program that the school has been using over the last few years saves on maintenance costs, which can be significant on buses. For example, Lanthier said, school buses have two mufflers, and if both needed to be replaced, that could cost around $10,000.

With rust common on vehicles in the Adirondacks due to salted roads in the winter, buses need a lot of work after five years, Lanthier said.

School buses are inspected twice a year, so they need to be kept in good shape, he said.

The district can likely get about $25,000 to $30,000 by selling the buses the new ones will replace, Lanthier said. He said that’s a relatively high trade value, because the buses would be in better shape than if they were kept longer.

“It’s a good savings that we’re saving on reduced labor costs, reduced parts and we’re gaining larger trade-in values because they’re worth more,” Lanthier said.

Lanthier noted that some districts, like Lake Placid, lease their buses. But he said that would be a big upfront cost, because the district would have to pay for a whole fleet of buses all at once.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or