MT. VERNON — A statement from Mike Beard, representing the Past President's Council of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, was presented to members of the Mt. Vernon Township High School Building Committee earlier this week.The statement is a followup to conversations the Council had with the Committee last month, in reference to the new high school design and the issuing of bonds to cover the community's portion of the construction cost, according to Beard."We want to reiterate the fact the President's Council and the Chamber Board remains fully in support of the new school and we are very excited about the positive effect it will have on our community and the surrounding area," Beard said in his opening."With that said, the Council feels it is important to let the Committee know we have concerns about the design of the building and the potential increase in cost of the overall project this new design might cause. It is our contention the design you presented to us on the 11th will increase the cost of the project over the $62 million price tag which is the number used in convincing the voting public to support this project."At a meeting on the 11th the FGM and McCarthy representatives insisted that a curved structure would not be more expensive and that the project could be built for 2007 prices. In the February 2013 edition of Kiplinger's Letter it states that 'construction costs were on the ride,' building costs were up 13 percent in 2012 and lumber costs were anticipated to rise 10 percent in 2013. It goes on to say 'also rising dramatically this year is drywall, insulation and paint along with price hikes in asphalt and concrete. Regardless of the design we feel it is obvious the cost to build this new school in 2014 will be more than what it would have cost in 2007. It is understood that none of us will know for sure what the cost of construction will be until the bids are returned later this year, then and only then will there be any solid numbers for the community to review."During our visit questions were also raised about the issuing of the bonds. It had been brought to our attention that approximately $16.1 million in bonds have been issued with the potential of $3.7 million of additional bonds that could be issued at a later date. Our research uncovered the fact the bonds issued were 'premium' bonds … it is our understanding the $16.1 million issued bonds has netted the district approximately $19.8 million in revenue."Beard said the Council supports the Building Committee's decision in the issuance of the premium bonds.As for the $3.1 million in unissued bonds, the Council asked if the unissued bonds would be issued, and if so, would they also be issued as premium bonds."We heard two answers: 1) The Building Committee does not plan to issue the additional bonds, and 2) The Building Committee will not issue them unless necessary. The second answer causes us concerns," Beard said."It is our Council's position that you have the $19.8 million in revenue you said you would need to build a $62 million school. It is the consensus of our Council that it would not be in the best interest of the taxing district for those additional bonds to be issued. We urge to work within the parameters that were presented to the community in the successful referendum and if any additional monies are needed for whatever reason that you look to private donations to raise such money as needed," he concluded.Beard sat through the 90-minute meeting, listening to a construction update from Greg Brown of FGM Architects. Before issuing his statement, he told the Committee, "Wow, what a facility. I pray to God that we can build it."Board President Carl Miller responded to Beard's statement."Thank you for your interest and concern. We'll take it under advisement," he said.No other public members spoke at the meeting.
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