Roof Repairs 1.7 mil.

After literally years of neglect, the roofs on nearly all of Loudon County schools are to be replaced. The total cost will top 1.7 million dollars for eight schools. Last year the board included $500,000.00 in the budget to replace the roofs on what was determined to be the three worst roofs. Unfortunately the estimated half million dollar cost was grossly underestimated requiring an additional $300,000.00 to complete those replacements.

At Thursday's BOE meeting the board voted to spend up to another $914,127.00 to replace the roofs on five more schools. Purchasing director, Leo Bradshaw, informed the board that the $914,127.00 would be borrowed and repaid from the rural debt fund, the same fund that would be used to fund the proposed building program. Borrowing the roof money could greatly reduce the funds available for the building program. I could not support borrowing money at this time that would jeopardize the building program. My no vote on the roof replacements was not in opposition to replacing the roofs, but in opposition to borrowing nearly a million dollars at this time.

I would rather the board pay for all or part of the repairs instead of borrowing more money. The board has several million dollars in reserves and there are several million more in the rural debt fund reserves. It would seem to make much more since to use some of the reserves to pay for the roof replacements rather than using any of the tax pennies going to the debt service.
If pennies from the debt service are used to repay the 900k roof replacement, that will reduce the pennies available to fund the building program debt service. Depending on the term of the 900k debt service, it could reduce the available funds for the building program by anywhere from 3-10 million dollars.
Possibly the board could pay the whole bill from our reserves or half from us and half from the rural debt fund reserves or all from the rural debt fund. Before we rush out and obligate ourselves to unnecessary debt, I would encourage the commission, and the BOE to thoroughly explore any and all other options to pay for the roof replacement rather than taking on additional debt at this time.

Leaking roofs a priority, timetable discussed

Mary E. Hinds News Herald


Following a thorough discussion of the pros and cons of spending $912,000 to repair and replace roofs at several county schools in the face of the proposed building program, the Loudon County School Board voted in favor of borrowing the money for the roofing projects. 

Board member Van Shaver opened the discussion questioning Loudon County Purchasing Agent Leo Bradshaw about the particulars of such a loan, specifically how it would be paid back. Bradshaw said the money could be borrowed through the Rural Debt Fund and if any bids for the roofing projects came back lower than expected, the difference could be applied to the unpaid balance of the loan. "Right now the rates are really good," Bradshaw said estimating interest rates at three to three-and-a-half percent. He also said the loan could be paid off early with no penalty. 

Shaver said while he was in favor of fixing leaking roofs he questioned the wisdom of borrowing nearly a million dollars when there was still no firm numbers on what the first phase of the building program will cost. He moved the matter be tabled until there are firmer numbers for the building program. 

Board member Gary Ubben disagreed with Shaver saying, "We need the roofs no matter what" and the board should "move ahead with the roofs as soon as possible." Bradshaw agreed explaining roof repairs are less expensive and easier in the summer when students are not in the school and the weather is better. He said the roofs would only get worse and therefore be even more expensive to fix. "If we wait there will be more leaks and it will be more expensive," Bradshaw said. 

"North Middle School cannot wait," said board member Lisa Russell. There was then a call for the question on Shaver's move to table the matter. The board voted against that idea. Board member Larry Proaps promptly moved to borrow the money to fix all the roofs. Russell countered with an amendment to fix only the roof at North Middle School at this time. Shaver once again warned the board borrowing money now could "eliminate part of the building program."  

"They still have to be repaired," said board member Bill Marcus. Shaver agreed but said since the county school budget was yet to be set it would be better to wait to see if there was any room in the budget and avoid taking out a loan.

"Decide roofs or no roofs," said board Chairman Leroy Tate. Bradshaw said if the measure was not passed the only other option was to "keep paying money for patches that don't work" which would lead to damaged ceiling tiles and complaints from parents.

"I'm going to give them the school board's phone numbers," Bradshaw said adding, "I can't filter the calls and I can't fix the roofs." He also told the board the cost for the roofs was estimated at $722,000, with another $25,000 as a contingency for unforeseen problems. He said those costs added to the architect's fees came to a total of $912,000.

After much more discussion there was a vote on Russell's amendment to just fix the roof at North Middle School until there are firmer number for the building program. The amendment failed with only Russell and Shaver voting for it. The board then turned to Proaps original motion to move ahead and fix all the leaking roofs. This motion passed with only Russell and Shaver voting against it.

"Hallelujah," Tate said.