July 21, 2014
President Hamilton opened the meeting by introducing Board member, Mike Buckel. Mr. Buckel presented a program tailored to ESPLOST funding, Hart School’s plans, HCPOA recommendations, contingency planning, and finally a proposed wording for SPLOST. He advised previous programs discussed the AG Center, CTAE program, College Career Academy and Wellness building or gym at length.
Key points for taxpayers to consider are:
Taxpayer trust was betrayed by BOE and school spending on past SPLOST initiatives; SPLOST 2 took out 10-year bonds that required SPLOST-3 to pay off; and SPLOST-3 promised a rehabilitated gym, a new gym and an Ag Center, concluding taxpayer funding is not being used to support taxpayer interests.
a. Funding: The expected revenues from SPLOST 4 should be near $12.5 million; but SPLOST revenue has been declining and could continue to fall.
b. A current construction plan has been determined by the school. It is: Debt reduced to $8.5M and contains a degree of pay-as-you-go; CCA/CTAE & Gym in a joined structure; No mention of rehabilitation of existing gym; yet an addition of cafeteria refurbishment; a construction start date of 2015; and AG Center Plan.
c. Possible problems identified are as follows:
· Ag Center cost inflated by inclusion of a “classroom;”
· No mention of how the Ag Community will participate;
· Interest on the bonds at 3% is $664,032; and CCA grant money is uncertain;
· Nothing budgeted for change orders/overruns/contingencies;
· Nothing budgeted for demolition cost of existing CTAE building.
Hart County POA recommendations are:
· Limit initial debt to 1/3 of expected revenue.
· Set construction priorities:
1. Rehabilitate existing gym;
2. Construct CCA/CTAE building;
3. Establish AG Center;
4. New gym as funding allows; and work on projects in sequence as funds permit.
Dottie Williams, member of the College and Career Academy study group, posed several serious questions to members that need to be addressed. They were: will the new buildings and expenditures for staff and operations crowd out other needs; what might be sacrificed; conclusions were made to build new without exploring whether renovations would solve problems. Her committee has not seen a breakdown of building costs, annual operating costs and how much they will increase the budget. Ms. Williams stressed the need for broad business support.
Bill Fogerty briefly reported on lake issues. He advised the Corps was weighing Duke Energy rules for its Oconee nuclear station to run with less water. He noted information from the Anderson Independent Mail regarding the additional two reactors at Plant Vogtle could increase total water withdrawals to 200 million gallons daily.
Member Jerry Hannekin addressed members about the possible fire dangers from “sky lanterns” which are mini hot balloons that contain fuel cells that produce a small flame.