The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District is making plans for a new, more central bus garage it expects will eventually save it $500,000 per year in transportation costs.


The current district bus facility is located in Rosemount, at the southern edge of the district. That leaves some drivers covering long distances to complete their routes. The district also currently contracts with an outside vendor for some of its bus services. Finance director Jeff Solomon said the new facility to cut that expense.


Solomon said the new facility will save the district $300,000 the first year after it opens in 2016. The savings are expected to increase to $500,000 per year over the course of five years.


The Minnesota legislature cleared the way for the new facility earlier this year with a law that allows the district to use its lease levy authority to pay for the building. Lease levy authority is typically only available for use on buildings that serve instructional purposes.


The district is currently negotiating to buy a piece of property at 147th Street and Johnny Cake Ridge Road in Apple Valley.


When the new facility is finished, the district will move 90 to 100 buses to the Apple Valley location, about half of its fleet. The rest would stay at the current bus facility in Rosemount. The move will also allow the district to relocate about 30 buses from a storage building at its district office annex on Diamond Path.


The district expects to spend about $7.6 million on a building to house the buses at its new facility. All buses would be kept indoors, a code requirement. Because of other expiring tax levies the project should not result in a tax increase for district residents, Solomon said.


The current timeline for the project calls for construction to start in September of 2015 and buses to move in by August of 2016.