$7.3 M change order and higher taxes

Published 12:47 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2019


On June 12, 2018, the board of supervisors (BOS) approved awarding a $3.2 million Public-Private Education Infrastructure Act (PPEA) contract to Jamerson-Lewis Construction for work at Phenix and Bacon District schools. Under PPEA only one contractor bid was required. Nothing was included on the agenda that day about a $3.2 million expenditure coming up for approval.

Yet, with no opportunity for public input, no budget authority, and no appropriation; the BOS committed the county to a $3.2 million expenditure and the slippery slope of foolish spending started. For good reason, state law requires budgeting and appropriating prior to any commitment to spend county funds. The BOS ignored these requirements.

On March 4, 2019, Jamerson submitted to MRG Consulting, the school’s construction manager, a $7.3 million change to the original $3.2 million contract. A change order which included normal maintenance items such as painting, roofing and repaving. On March 12, only eight days later and with no public input or discussion, the school board unanimously approved sending this $7.3 million request to the BOS.

Let’s add up the numbers for this slippery slope. The current and proposed Phenix and Bacon PPEA total $10.5 million. Add recent Eureka HVAC of $3 million and the elementary school total is $13.5 million or almost the $14 million cost of new courthouse.

I estimate annual debt service to finance the $10.5 million PPEA will be $900,000. This equates to a real estate tax increase of 9 cents per $100 of assessed value or a 17 percent increase. My estimates may be low. Taxes may need to increase more both for this and other expenses.

What will the county taxpayers get for their money? Patched old buildings which analysis led by the current school superintendent under the prior school board showed high operating costs and significant savings with consolidation and building new.

A slippery slope is a course of action that is difficult to stop and will eventually lead to failure and trouble. Is there a way to stop this slippery slope of hasty decisions, no competition contracts, huge change orders, foolish spending, and tax increases?

Terry Ramsey is a resident of Charlotte Court House and can be contacted at Terrill. Ramsey@outlook.com.