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Board preps funding for capital projects

The Williamsport Area School Board approved a resolution authorizing the paperwork to be put in place to secure financing not to exceed $9,995,000 to fund capital projects in the district at a meeting Tuesday.

The board authorized the administration to work with PFM Financial Advisors LLC, as financial advisor, and Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP as bond counsel and the district solicitor in conjunction with the issuance of general obligation bonds. A parameters resolution will be prepared and advertised and is expected to be presented at the board’s May 7 meeting with settlement of the money into the construction fund expected to be on June 13.

The money will be used in part to pay the district’s share of the $2,994,497 cost of the Millionaire Drive Project. A multi-modal grant will cover $1,172,971 of the project with the district paying the rest through the bond proceeds.

In conjunction with this, the board approved the contract for the project to the low bidder, HRI Inc. Work, which will include paving, sidewalks and lighting of the drive, is set to begin as soon as possible, according to Dr. Timothy S. Bowers, district superintendent, and is expected to be completed by Aug. 19. Access to the drive may be limited to one lane, Bowers said, but is not expected to be totally closed until after school is out.

The remainder of the bond will be used for roof repairs at the high school and Stevens elementary and other capital projects. The board approved proposals from Weatherproofing Technologies, subsidiary of Tremco Inc., Ohio, to do limited masonry repairs to the roof at Stevens at a cost of $63,200 and for replacement of the roof on the high school auditorium and science classrooms at a cost of $740,650.

The board also approved authorizing the administration to solicit requests from architectural firms to be used to select firms for a district-wide feasibility study. The board indicated the last study was done in 2008.

The board approved a

reimbursement resolution, authorizing reimbursement of a prior expenditure of funds from the proceeds of a tax-exempt bond or bonds to be issued for financing projects.

In an update on the 2019-20 budget, Wanda Erb, district business administrator, reported the district currently faces a $1.5 million shortfall in next year’s budget plan. Projected expenditures total $92.3 million, which represents an increase of 1.55 percent, or about $1.4 million over the current budget, it was announced.

Total revenue is set to be around $90.7 million, or about 0.89 percent over this year’s total.

Factors contributing to the projected increase include:

• a 4.98 percent increase in insurance benefits which translates to $545,000.

• state-mandated retirement contributions increase of 3.52 percent or $465,000.

• a projected increase of 11.22 percent, or $269,000 in charter school tuition costs.

• student out-of-district placements increasing by 45 percent or $190,000.

Erb said the district’s financial team is working to reduce the deficit before adoption of a final budget on June 18.

Board members voting were: Lori Baer, Brette Confair, Patrick Dixon, Jennifer Lake, Barbara Reeves, Marc Shefsky, Dr. Nancy Story Somers and Adam Welteroth.

Absent was Dr. Jane Penman.

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