By TRICIA HILL
The Boscobel School Board and H&H Group Holdings of Verona have been working together for approximately four months to figure out energy efficiency projects that are of high importance to be completed at the schools. After the board agreed to move forward with a $10 million resolution on Nov. 18, they planned a town forum for Nov. 25 at Boscobel Bowl & Banquet to inform the community of the plans and to hear community questions and concerns.
Wisconsin ACT 32 was put in place in the 2011-13 state budget to give school districts the opportunity to address capital projects within their district without going to referendum and to gain additional levy authority to address those projects. The school district will be limited to projects that will provide savings for the district, whether it be operational or energy savings.
“This was put in place to recognize that there are some projects that have a benefit from a budget standpoint as well as the maintenance things that the district should be doing on the buildings,” said Mike Clark, director of the Public Finance team at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.
The board had to go through a petition process to get the ability to borrow. So they started out by passing the resolution and then deciding to hold the town forum, which they did not have to hold. The board now has to wait 30 days to give the community a chance to decide if they would like to prevent the resolution by gathering approximately 300 signatures for a referendum.
“If the district passes this resolution they would provide $10 million in borrowing authority to go toward these projects and that debt would be paid back in a period of time,” Clark said. “Any measurable utility savings that are generated by the projects would have to offset some of that debt payment.”
H&H began a study over the last couple of months to decide what operational and energy projects needed to be taken care of throughout the four school district buildings and the bus garage. With the help of the engineers they were able to provide the community with a list of projects that the board and the company feel will help get another generation out of the current buildings.
The total cost for the projects is currently at $7,807,626. The board’s reasoning for asking for a borrowing limit of $10 million is so they would not have to come back to the community and ask for more money if other issues were found and they had not borrowed enough. They were also concerned that issues involving the sewer under the high school gym floor were not included, but came to find out H&H had made some changes in the plumbing budget that allowed for this to be added to the proposal.
According to the proposed budget amount, the middle/high school will require the most amount of work with a total $4,549,004 worth of projects. The middle/high school will need HVAC upgrades, an updated fire alarm system, intercom/bell upgrade, audio/visual upgrades, plumbing upgrades/repairs, exterior building/drainage repair, and repairs to the roof in certain spots.
The Elementary building is the next highest amount, which will receive HVAC upgrades, water softener replacement, gym audio/visual system, and exterior building repairs for approximately $1,071,665.
The Annex building will receive HVAC upgrades, voice over IP phone system, a 10 GB Switch System/backup wireless controller, single mode fiber between the Annex, elementary, and Rock buildings, exterior building repairs, and a FM 200 chemical system for an estimated $903,762.
The final building that is included to be worked on is the Rock School. It will be receiving HVAC upgrades and exterior building improvements for an estimated amount of $524,482.
There are projects that are being done district-wide that are included in the above listed prices, including LED outdoor and indoor lighting, DDC or direct digital controls upgrade, continuous-commissioning, domestic water conservation, building envelope improvements, redraw MEP prints in AutoCAD, and new clock systems.
The bus garage was one of the many things listed on the proposal contract, but at the present time is not a definite project. H&H had an engineer come in to look at the building for the possibility of raising it to fit the new buses. However, it has come to the school board’s attention that their building is sitting on an old creek bed and even if they fix it, over years it will sink back down into the land again, causing them to start back at square one.
If the board decides to build a new bus garage it will cost a total of $758,712. The board plans to continue to discuss this matter and decide what their best option will be.
“We don’t fix everything because we can. We fix what makes sense and will be beneficial to the school,” H&H employee Josh Kaurich said.
The resolution for $10 million that the board passed at their regular meeting on Nov. 18 gives them the authority to borrow up to that amount or less. The board has not looked at specific borrowing plans yet as they are still not sure when the projects will start or how long they are going to take.
“As the projects and the schedule gets more fine tuned and you start getting hard prices on projects, there will be a better understanding on the extent of the projects and how much we need to borrow,” Clark said.
The projects are limited by the scope that is outlined in the resolution. So if the district borrows $8 million and they only spend $7.5 no one is going to be seeing turf going into the football field. However, if they get to the end of the project and there is money remaining the school board can use the money to offset the debt payments.
Community member Linda Haney questioned Clark on how much the interest rate would be and how long of a period are the board is looking at as far as borrowing? Clark explained that the state statute would only allow a borrowing period of 20 years and that if the board were to decide to go with the full $10 million that it would make the most sense for them to go with the full 20 years.
“If the project amount is smaller, then we can look at a shorter amount of borrowing time,” Clark said.
As far as the interest rate goes, they are using for projections at this point 4.5 percent. They are currently months away from borrowing, so they are trying to be conservative. If they were borrowing today they would be looking at a 3.75 percent interest rate. So over 20 years at the 4.5 percent interest rate they will be looking at $5.5 million in interest fees.
If the board borrowed the full $10 million—which was approved on Nov. 18—the mill rate would increase by approximately $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $170 per year on a home assessed at $100,000.
“The life of the projects justify a longer borrowing,” Clark said. “A five-year, it’s a lot higher cost but you’re saving a lot of interest. But you’re putting the burden on the taxpayers versus the burden on the taxpayers over a 20 year period.”
Now that the town forum has been completed, the board and H&H are at a stand still for 30 days waiting to hear if the public wishes to attempt to prevent the resolution or to move forward. If anyone would like to hear more information they are welcome to contact the ACT 32 committee members which consist of board members Hershel Marks, Roger Knoble, and Chuck Owens, or operations manager Steve Wacker.