July 24, 2014 - 06:40
     
Commission looks at roof payment
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In addition to the more than $1.3 million for those repairs, commissioners are deciding whether to include South Polk Elementary’s roof, estimated to add roughly $488,000 to the cost. A special meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday to make a decision.
County Commissioners are grappling with a way to pay for roof repair and replacement for Benton Elementary, Copper Basin Elementary, and Chilhowee Middle School. In addition to the more than $1.3 million for those repairs, commissioners are deciding whether to include South Polk Elementary’s roof, estimated to add roughly $488,000 to the cost. A special meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday to make a decision.
Low bid for the roof project came from Dixie Roofing and includes a 20-year warranty, ceiling tiles, and cleanup. Work needs to begin within 40 days in order for the roofs to be completed by the beginning of the next school year.
First District Commissioner John Pippenger said the only options for coming up with the money would be a wheel tax, local option sales tax, or an increase in property taxes. Second District Commissioner Greg Brooks asked if the school system had anything they could contribute to the cost. Director of Schools James Jones said it would not be realistic to say they had any excess money to help pay for the project. He said they have had a decrease in funding over the last four years. Money for the school system is tied to number of students, and that number has gone down.
County Executive Hoyt Firestone said there was a 12-year maximum of a capital outlay note, and estimated the cost at $140,000 a year. Commissioners asked him to find out for certain the cost of a note.
Third District Commissioner Daren Waters said they could cover the first year of payments with money in the debt service fund without having to raise taxes, but they would need to come up with a plan for the next year. He said that money could not be counted on in future years. Waters said if they voted to fund it they would be looking at an increase of 5¢ on property taxes, but they would have a year to figure it out and both they and taxpayers would know it was coming up.
Board Chairman Buster Lewis pointed out there would likely be other crises that would arise in future years. Pippenger asked how many buses would have to be purchased next year. School Board member Gary Silvers said no buses would be needed next year because the allowable mileage on buses had been extended.
Firestone said in order to do amortization schedules he needed a ballpark figure of the amount to be borrowed. Brooks said they should fix them all while they were doing it. Jones said the last time he was at South Polk there was a canopy inside the building that collected water that went into 50-gallon cans.
Adding South Polk to the project is estimated to bring the total with consulting fees to about $1.8 million.

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