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Board debates appropriations

Following a July meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, discussion regarding school appropriations continue to be of much debate regarding the appropriate figure voted on at the Supervisors June meeting.  

According to County Finance Director Norma Tuck, “the figure of 3,286,000 was composed from the PPEA Proposal presented to BOS (Board of Supervisors) in May with the total of $3,211,000 and the issuance cost of $75,000 that was quoted from Davenport if funds were borrowed.  These were the only figures that I had documentation of to backup the requested appropriation.”

Drakes Branch Supervisors Garland H. Hamlett, Jr. also said the additional figure was an issuance cost.

According to a summary of school financing options from Davenport and Company LLC, the company said “the county is considering a borrowing to fund improvements to its Bacon and Phenix Elementary Schools totaling approximately $3.2 million, plus costs of issuance (the “2018 school projects”).”

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors adopted and appropriated the amended budget to include $3,286,000 following a public hearing held last Tuesday at the July meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors.

While no members of the public spoke, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Gary Walker said at that time,“for those of you who may not remember at our last board meeting, we voted to appropriate $3,286,000 to the school system to upgrade facilities.”

He said those funds needed to be added to the budget.

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni said previously she thought the figure was 3.2 million.

According to June minutes of the Supervisors, a motion was originally made by Cullen/Red House Supervisor Nancy Carwile to discuss ways to raise money for a consolidated school for Phenix and Bacon District Elementary.

However, a substitute motion was made by Hamlett and seconded by Phenix/Aspen Supervisor Donna Fore “to award the contract for the unsolicited PPEA proposal for $3.2 million to Jamerson Lewis Construction.”

“I understood we were approving a $3.2 million project,” said Pierantoni. “I also understood from earlier conversations that the school board was going to put some of the money towards that … they were going to have left over funds of $500,000 …”

Pierantoni said during budget workshops with the school board, a $3 million figure was first discussed, however, was later increased to $3.2 million due to the increasing cost of steel prices.

She said in order to increase the amount from $3.2 million to $3,286,000, an additional vote would have been needed.

Pierantoni said while another request was submitted from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nancy Leonard for more items, some of the the items were assured to have been included in the $3.2 million figure.

“At any rate, we did not approve this second list because it is where I drew the line on this spending,” said Pierantoni.

Walker previously said it was voted on at the last meeting of the supervisors to amend the budget to give the school system money for the facility upgrades.

At a July meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, Pierantoni said she was under the impression the school board would have an estimated $500,000 in leftover funds at the end of the year to contribute to the cost of the requested items.

In an email addressed to Chairman of the Supervisors Gary Walker from Dr. Leonard, she said a total of $400,000 remains in an account at the Board of Supervisors.

“In addition, the School System applied and received a $180,000 school bus rebate for the replacement of the old buses and that money received from the EPA has been returned to the Board of Supervisors and is also in that account,” said Leonard in the email. “Once all the projects have been completed and all invoices received, a final balance can be reviewed.  Because of the nature of renovation projects and potential for unexpected issues, the school system has left any money that was not encumbered by the bus purchases and the Year One Capital Improvements in the account with the Board of Supervisors.”

At a June meeting of the Supervisors, they also approved to allow the School Board to post a PPEA Proposal up to $6 million, including all renovations to bring a 15 year life expectancy on the buildings.

“At the request of the Board of Supervisors, we comprised a committee of stakeholders and experts to be able to look at what could be needed for Bacon and Phenix above the $3.2 million original scope of the PPEA (Public Private Education Act) project,” said Superintendent of Charlotte County Schools Dr. Nancy Leonard at that time.