Sep 25, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
Residents of the Skaneateles school district took an opportunity on Monday, Sept. 23 to ask questions and give comments to the board of education on a proposed $2.6 million capital project.
The special meeting was called to give residents a chance (which they will also have at the board’s Oct. 1 meeting) to give input on the project before its scope is finalized at the board’s Oct. 15 meeting.
When the board held informational meetings on its failed $22.5 million project last spring it had already finalized what would and would not be included on the proposal, this time they will have some time to consider their options beforehand, Carlson said.
Prior to hearing comments Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel and Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Dale Bates provided more information on what the project would include, the timeline for its completion and the tax impact.
The total cost of the project – which deals exclusively with work to the high school/middle school building – is estimated to be $2,685,877.
That total includes: $1,714,324 for roof replacements, $549,533 for masonry restoration, $117,757 for window sealing/caulking (including a window wall in the commons area built in 2000), $102,056 for reconstruction of a boiler room areaway used for air intake and $94,206 for safety and security upgrades. The totals were estimated by the district’s architect and include allowances for incidental costs.
The bond amount includes $108,000 of “capitalized interest” which is to cover the first debt service payment on the bond and will avoid the bond having an impact on the general fund or tax levy for the 2014-15 school year, Bates said.
Of the total cost of the project, the district anticipates that about 60 percent of the construction costs will be covered by state aid for building projects. The other 40 percent will be paid for by the local tax payers.
The money will be bonded for are paid back over a 15-year period with an estimated interest rate of four percent with the impact on the tax levy starting in the 2015-16 budget year, Bates said.
The estimated impact of the debt service on the tax levy will be $0.074 per $1,000 per assessed value, which is $20.35 on the tax bill for a house valued at $275,000.
While no one at the meeting spoke against the proposed bond, several residents asked why the project had been cut down so dramatically and when (or if) the rest of the originally proposed work will be done.
This group of projects is considered to be the most urgent and would have been done first if the failed proposition had been passed, Carlson said. “These are issues that center around the safety and well-being of our buildings and the students and the staff in them,” she said.
Board members added that by preventing water from leaking into the building, they will be limiting further damage and need for other work, such as asbestos abatement.
If the roof replacements don’t get done next summer, than the cost of the project will become more expensive for the district’s taxpayers, Pastel said.
Carlson said that the facilities committee will meet this fall and in the spring to start working on coming up with a “phase two” of work which could include work such as asbestos abatement and purchasing a new boiler.
The divisive issues from the original proposal included the new middle school gym and the press box, board member Evan Dreyfuss said. Those items will have to be discussed again in a few years or dealt with in other ways, he said.
Skaneateles resident and architect Wayne LaFrance spoke to commend the board on its work on prioritizing the facility needs and doing the roof replacement first. He also warned the board that doing the asbestos abatement work will bring a high price tag on a future project.
“Once you get into the ceiling structure, it’s a cascade effect. It’s not easy increments a million here and a million there, you get big blocks of dollars immediately,” he said. “The next step could very well be $12 million, just because of that cascade effect.”
Ann Hagan spoke to express concern about poor voter turnout for the proposition that failed in June, and ask that the district work to better spread the word and get support for the project.
That proposal was voted on by 1,150 people, 478 of whom voted in favor of the bond.
More information on the proposal, including photos, are available on the district website skanschools.org.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.