DOJ: News Release

McGrath: 1997 Statute Governs Handling of School Bus Reserve Fund

HELENA – In a formal opinion released Friday, Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath held that school district trustees may not transfer funds from a “bus depreciation reserve fund” until all the conditions of a 1997 law have been met.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch requested the opinion.

A Montana statute enacted in 1971 allows school districts to create a bus depreciation reserve fund and levy a tax for the replacement and repair of school buses. A statute passed in 1997 placed restrictions on the reserve funds, requiring trustees to sell the district’s buses and submit the proposed transfer to a vote before they could move money from the bus reserve fund into another fund.

The 1997 statute conflicts with two other state laws related to the transfer of balances between funds by school districts. The other two laws are less specific and less restrictive.

McGrath held that the 1997 statute – and its more specific, definite language – prevailed.

Opinions carry the weight of law unless a court overturns them or the legislature modifies the laws involved.

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