Appropriation hearing set

Published 9:54 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A public hearing regarding an amendment or appropriation to the FY 2018-19 Charlotte County Budget in light of a $3.2 million PPEA for school capital projects at Phenix and Bacon District Elementary Schools will be held Dec. 11.

According to a notice from the County, “the Board (of Supervisors) is seeking input from the public regarding financing the projects or paying for the projects from the General Fund Reserves.”

A Nov. 20 memo from County Administrator Daniel Witt said the PPEA Project for the two elementary schools was approved by the Board of Supervisors.

He said the issuance cost estimated is $75,000 and both figures, including the $3.2 million PPEA, have been appropriated by the Board to Capital Projects Fund 70, “with the revenue source of contemplated borrowings.”

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisors Kay Pierantoni said the Supervisors agreed to move forward with the project in June.

“I pushed then, and the majority agreed, that we needed to hear what else was needed to bring schools up to at least a 15 year life before we borrowed money,” said Pierantoni. “Every time we borrow, it’s a $75,000 to $100,000 fee.”

She said at the July meeting of the Supervisors, there was a full presentation from Davenport (and Company) to select a borrowing option.

“The Board of Supervisors has also approved a reimbursement resolution if funds are borrowed for this project; however, the resolution did not include allocating any funds from the General Reserve Fund 10. The first payment was approved to be paid at the November Board meeting but now a decision needs to be made regarding the funding source …” said Witt.

He said if it is a desire to borrow the funds, a request should be made to Davenport and Company to explore borrowing options.

Witt said the previous options have expired.

At a July meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, Davenport and Company Representative R.T. Taylor was available to discuss school financing options for renovations in Charlotte County.

During that time, three options were presented for consideration.

“However, if it is the pleasure of the Board to use the General Fund 10 as a revenue source, a public hearing will need to be set and scheduled so these funds can be appropriated and then transferred to the Capital Project Fund 70,” said Witt.

He said according to the County’s auditors, Fund 70 would show a negative balance without an appropriation allowing for a fund transfer from General Fund 10.

Charlotte County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Walker recently expressed personal concerns involving county spending at a November meeting of the Supervisors.

“As you know, the county borrowed $6 million for the school system to pay to replace the HVAC system at Eureka Elementary, buy 17 new buses and to repair the roof and make other repairs at Randolph-Henry,” said Walker previously.

At that time, he said the debt service for those projects would be about $525,000 each year and the board recently voted to spend over $3 million on an addition to Phenix Elementary School.

Walker also said the debt service would be $325,000 a year for that project.

“That project does not address most of the structural issues in the existing building which will have to be financed in the future,” he said previously.

Walker said previously the County is also in the process of replacing fire, rescue, school and Sheriff’s Department communications.

“Realistically, this is a push to borrow funds …” said Pierantoni. “ … without a great deal of push back, much needed renovations at Bacon will not happen. I am not for going down this project with Jamerson (-Lewis Construction). Look at the ill planned gym at Bacon, now scheduled to be built 60 feet away from main building. However, I am also not for ignoring the needs at Bacon. We need another approach, but we do not need to ignore or delay the repairs at Bacon,” said Pierantoni.

At Bacon-District and Phenix Elementary, previously in June, PPEA proposal plans included a fixed price identified at $3.2 million to include the addition of a 6,000 square foot multipurpose facility at both Bacon District and Phenix Schools and the addition of eight classrooms at Phenix, which would replace mobile classroom units.

Superintendent of Charlotte County Schools Dr. Nancy Leonard said previously the focus was on security and accessibility, at which the entire team met at the two schools to do a walk through.

“I ran for this office to bring about transparency. There are four seats on our Board up for election in 2019. I will not stand by and let this happen at Bacon without getting many people involved. I have tried to keep this from Facebook and handle through emails and building bridges. I believe now is the time to let citizens know the full picture. To my fellow Supervisors, you need to decide where you stand,” said Pierantoni.

The public hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the conference room of the County Administrator Building in Charlotte Court House.