Crookston School District - New bus garage will have a fueling station

Mike Christopherson

    The new, voter-approved bus garage/transportation facility currently under construction in the northwest corner of the property home to Highland School will be equipped with a fueling station with both diesel and gasoline tanks.

    Presented with the option of spending around $10,000 in the hope that the current fueling tanks at the current bus garage pass inspection for another year, which Superintendent Jeremy Olson called a “foolish” and “very poor” investment, the Crookston School Board instead went with the option of adding new tanks to the new facility, at an estimated cost of $214,500.

    Transportation and Buildings/Grounds Coordinator Rick Niemela preferred the gasoline tank be included as well for the district-owned vans, SUVs and other non-bus vehicles that don’t run on diesel, Olson noted.

    Board member Mike Theis voted against the resolution, saying he thinks the diesel tank makes sense, but that he doesn’t see the justification in adding the gasoline tanks, when the district’s other vehicles could easily be filled up at various gas stations in Crookston.

    “Diesel is pretty much a slam dunk in my opinion; we can’t have buses filling up around town,” Theis said. “But I wouldn’t be in favor of putting gas in at this time. I don’t feel the payback is good for the district.”

    Olson and Board Chair Frank Fee each noted that the $214,500 estimate is on the high end, and the actual cost could be lower. Olson added that it would cost less to put the tanks in now, when the facility is being built, compared to after it’s finished.

    So where will the money come from? Three sources, Olson said.

    • The bus garage project has around $70,000 left in its contingency fund. With excavation complete, the stage where most surprises are typically found in a project like this that require the spending of contingency funds, Olson said he’s confident the remaining contingency dollars can be applied to the cost of the fueling station.

    • Around $50,000 will come from previously approved referendum dollars.

    • Approximately $94,500 will come from the state, in the form of Long-Term Facilities Maintenance funds allocated to the school district.

    “This is a way we can finance (the fueling station) without touching the general fund and impacting student education,” Olson said.

    At some point, the district will have to address the current fueling station at the current bus garage. Unless the district sells the property, Olson said the tanks are going to have to be removed. One option involves filling them with sand, but he said he suspects the district would be required to actually remove them. Long-Term Facilities Maintenance funds could be applied to that project as well, Olson noted.