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District may refinance a series of bonds

  • TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS David Shulman of Shulman, Shabbick & Sebelin of Palmerton has been chosen as the new solicitor for the Palmerton Area School District.
    TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS David Shulman of Shulman, Shabbick & Sebelin of Palmerton has been chosen as the new solicitor for the Palmerton Area School District.
Published January 08. 2010 05:00PM

Palmerton Area School District may refinance a series of bonds to help afford future big ticket projects.

Superintendent Carol Boyce told the school board's Buildings and Grounds Committee on Thursday that it may want to consider such action as it maps out projects in years to come.

Boyce presented the committee with a list of projects she termed "crucial."

But, before Boyce could delve any deeper into her conversation, committee member Carl Bieling interjected.

"Over the years, we've spent millions of dollars," Bieling said. "We've got to be focused, and make sure we don't hurt the people with taxes."

Bieling then asked Boyce to compile a list of the projects on paper for him to follow.

One of the more costly items Boyce alluded to was the high school stadium roof.

The roof has holes in it and is beyond repair, said Dave Rodrigues, director of facilities, who added that repairs are needed to the bleachers as well.

However, Boyce said the matter is but one of many.

"It cannot be a stand alone issue," Boyce said. "We have other athletic field issues."

Bieling then wondered aloud if the project was warranted.

"My concern is if it's even worth it," Bieling said. "We've put a lot of money into this."

Committee member Carol Dwyer agreed.

"The bleachers were looked at before, and was supposed to be done," Dwyer said.

Boyce said the high school stadium roof could cost $133,077, based on an earlier estimate from Tremco. In addition, the cost to restore the high school building roof could approach $500,000.

Boyce said the district should also pave its parking lots.

She said the cost to pave the senior high school parking lot would be about $54,000, the junior high school, $20,000, Towamensing Elementary, $5,500, S.S. Palmer, $10,000, and the high school tennis courts, $25,000.

Other projects Boyce said the district may want to consider are the replacement of the high school stage; the high school gymnasium floor; the pole building/bleachers; the junior high gymnasium bleachers; a crack in the wall at the junior high school; replacement of terra cotta piping under the catwalk; the exterior and interior doors at the high school; and an old pump.

"Now's the time to be looking at all of this," Boyce said. "Are these big ticket items that need to be bonded?"

Lisa Vignone, business manager, told the committee the district has a 2005 bond out in the amount of $6.6 million that will be paid off in 2016; a 2006 bond in the amount of $7.5 million that will paid off in 2026; and a 2007 bond in the amount of $2,076,922 that will be paid off in 2018.

Dwyer said many of these particular matters have existed prior to her joining the board.

"And I think this board has spent more in the last six years than any other board," Dwyer said. "I don't think we can do it all at one time."

Dwyer continued to express her belief.

"The roof has not fell in; these things are not new issues," Dwyer said. "I think this is a problem for our facilities and our maintenance department."

Committee member Barry Scherer said the district needs to approach the matter long-term.

"There has to be a plan," Scherer said. "A one year, five year, ten-year plan."

Committee member Susan Debski agreed.

"I just think that it's time; there needs to be a long-term plan in place," Debski said. "There are issues that are severe and unsafe."

Debski said she believes it's important for the public to know where their money is being spent.

"I think if we show them their money is going to something that makes sense, people may generally accept that," Debski said. "By constantly delaying something, you're constantly losing something."

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