Boiler bond on hold
Despite not having had an inspection of the infrastructure in the wing of Washington High School that was the junior high, Schools Superintendent Mike Jorgensen believes a bond issue to replace the boiler will still be under $1 million.
Jorgensen said today that an inspection of the piping, which the school board approved as a contingency for a bond issue to replace the boiler, is still being arranged. He said that Carl A. Nelson and Co., the district’s construction management firm, is arranging the inspection. He said the district knows it has to replace the boiler and also plans to replace the lights and the ceiling. The condition of the piping and the traps for the boiler remain unknown.
“We’re under the assumption that we are going to replace a good portion of the piping and the traps that are in that building,” Jorgensen said. “I still think we can do all of it for under $1 million.”
If the issue is for less than $1 million, taxpayers would see an increase of about 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable valuation.
He said the boiler, lights and ceiling should be done for about $750,000. An initial estimate for the piping and traps is about $200,000.
The school district still plans to have a bond issue for the boiler replacement in June. Jorgensen said he is waiting for the official estimate before giving the exact amount of the bond. Petitions for the referendum need to be to the Washington County Auditor by May 10. Jorgensen said that the district couldn’t begin circulating petitions until the exact dollar amount is known.
During its regular meeting Jan. 9, the Washington School Board discussed several options. Replacing the boiler was the least expensive option. In October 2012, the board learned that the boiler that heats the wing of the new high school that was formerly the junior high barely passed this year’s inspection. Jorgensen said the district was told unless there is a plan to replace it before next year, it would not pass another inspection. He said the boiler, which is the original in the junior high, runs at about 40 percent efficiency, is rusting out along the bottom, and leaks.
Jorgensen said that he believes there are a few positives that may convince Washington voters to approve this referendum. Several other bond referendums in recent years for high school and junior high construction and work have failed to get the 60 percent supermajority needed for passage.
“We will be releasing our budget figures for next year at the end of February,” he said. “I am estimating we will see a drop of at least $1, which would mean we would have been close to dropping $3 in the last three years.”
He said because the normal levy collects money for the general fund that covers mostly salaries, the money can’t be used for facilities.
Jorgensen said that if a bond issue isn’t approved, the district will have to find the money elsewhere, which may include not replacing a bus or new technology next year. He said that this would put the district behind in its replacement plan.