Palmerton school district ready to begin projects from $5 million bond
Palmerton Area School District appears poised to utilize the brunt of a $5 million bond on a litany of districtwide projects.
That was the consensus of the school board after it met with Rob Sarnowski of Barry Isett & Associates as part of a committee workshop on Tuesday.
Sarnowski presented the committee with an updated list of projects as part of a three-year construction plan that totals about $5,309,950.
"You really need to get moving on the year one projects," Sarnowski said. "The various window projects are of concern to me."
At an estimated cost of $1,053,000, the high school roof is the highest expense on the list of year one projects that total about $1,767,400. Sarnowski said the roof, which is scheduled to be replaced, should go out to bid by the end of this month.
Other projects include high school tennis courts ($120,000); a generator at S.S. Palmer ($94,000); security upgrades at the junior high/senior high complex ($87,500); chemistry lab ventilation ($49,000); security upgrades at S.S. Palmer Elementary ($47,000); the installation of terra cotta pipe along the catwalk ($40,000); oil tank removal ($39,000); junior high windows ($33,000); security upgrades at the Parkside Education Center ($32,000); ADA door handles ($25,000); and S.S. Palmer Steps ($22,000).
High school windows are also indicated on the list of year one projects, but no price tag has been associated as of yet, Sarnowski said.
At an estimated cost of $854,000, the junior high school gym tops the year two project list that comes in at about $3,041,000.
That project list also includes high school paving ($775,000); the high school auditorium ($517,000); bleachers and a weight room roof ($335,000); ADA bathrooms ($150,000); southern windows ($80,000); high school boiler ($60,000); a new PA system at S.S. Palmer ($52,000); ventilation/locker rooms at the high school ($48,000); water pumps in the high school ($47,000); maintenance garage paving ($40,000); replace the exterior high school doors ($32,000); and a sanitary sewer pumping station ($25,000).
At a projected cost of $341,550, the high school ceiling tile is the most costly item under the list of year three projects that total about $501,550.
Also among the projects are to repave a lot at S.S. Palmer ($60,000); install a single tennis court at Towamensing Elementary ($45,000); and the Towamensing bus loop ($42,000).
Amid discussion, the committee recommended that the board approve, in concept, years one and two with investigation and design at a cost of about $4,808,400 when it meets at 7 p.m. Jan. 18.
However, committee member Carl Bieling told Sarnowski he had reservations with that trend of thought.
"I don't know what you want from us other than to say 'go ahead and spend the money'", Bieling said. "I think you ought to know a little bit of that now."
But, Superintendent Carol Boyce cautioned that the district needs to get the process started.
"We're up against a time frame," Boyce said. "This is an approval in concept to move this forward."
Bieling said he still had reservations.
"I'm looking at this for accountability to happen," Bieling said. "I've been through other projects where I've been a little more comfortable."
Last month, the board at a special meeting adopted a resolution to borrow $5 million in bond funding and restructure its 2006 bond issue in the amount of $5.4 million that is scheduled to be paid off in 2026.
The bonds have a five-year call, and the interest rate will be 3.95-percent from 2011-2026. The district also has a 2007 bond in the amount of $1,545,000 scheduled to be paid off in 2018.
In November, the board on an 8-1 vote agreed to authorize Barry Isett & Associates to begin design work on the high school roof. Also at that time, the board, on a 7-2 vote, agreed to authorize the firm as engineer of record for the district, effective immediately.
In October, the board agreed to borrow an additional $5 million to fund maintenance and repair projects, with the stipulation that unused borrowed money be used to pay down the debt. That decision came after two prior motions, one to borrow $5 million, and the other, to borrow $2 million, were defeated. Also at that time, the board agreed to refinance a pair of bond issues and the energy performance lease.
In July, the board agreed to refinance its 2005 bond issue in the amount of $6 million that is scheduled to be paid off in 2016. In the process, it saved $175,314.
Business manager Lisa Vignone previously said that while the payments will go up, the district will not exceed the $1.6 million a year in debt service without impacting the amount of the loan payments for the next eight years.
As a result, the debt service for 12 years will be about $1.6 million, Vignone said, with the remaining four years at about $1.2 million, she said.
Had the board not agreed to borrow, the debt service would have decreased to $1.2 million in 2019, Vignone said. From 2020-2023, it would have been about $670,000, and from 2024-2026, about $470,000, at which point the district would have been done with its debt service, she said.