BY: PAT HUNTER
May 22, 2011
Why are taxpayers upset about spending another $250,000 to purportedly save millions? Hopefully THE HUNTER REPORT can shed some light to address some of your questions, and your requests for more information, and costs. Here's the sequence of events that led to the big expense concerning the Board of Education's latest action to spend more taxpayer money to redo drawings for the Greenback School.
At the March 22, 2011, BOE building transportation maintenance committee meeting, a heated exchange took place between the committee Chairman Leroy Tate and Greenback school board member Lisa Russell, and support for a new Greenback School was waning with other committee members. Although the committee decided to bring the entire matter to the full board, that didn't take place. Click to read MARCH 22, 2011 COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES
And out of the blue and not on the April 7th school board workshop agenda, assistant school director Jason Vance brought up redoing the Greenback School drawings. In tow, with drawings in hand, architect Don Shell presented ideas to cut space, and save taxpayer money. If the school board or school administrators was truly interested in saving money, why didn't the architect, school board, and school administrators revise or modify Greenback's School size, and plans long before now? Why burden taxpayers with more expense, waiting until after going out to fine bid estimates to change the plans?
Architect Don Shell's first estimate to re-do the drawings was about $144,000. By the second time, days later at another meeting, the amount had increased to $250,000. And by the third estimate, the number had grown even more, between $200,000 to $400,000 est.; thank goodness for video cameras. How did the amount go from $144,000, $250,000, 400,000? But more importantly, who authorized re-doing Greenback's School plans during the 2- week period, and before the April 7th workshop meeting?
At the May 2, 2011 Loudon County Commission meeting, Mayor Estelle Herron requested a last minute addition to the agenda. The Mayor requested that the schools would need $250,000 to redo the drawings for Greenback School, and that Mr. Honeycutt and Mr. Vance would address the matter under Honeycutt's section of the agenda. Commission Chairman asked if any commissioner objected but no one spoke. The $250,000 request skirted normal procedures and approval by the school board budget committee, county commission budget committee, and building/maintenance committee.
Nonetheless, the costly proposed new drawings expenditure sailed through Commission with a unanimous vote. But the school board's latest request came with a new twist and spin, spend a quarter of a million ($250,000) now with the possibility of saving $6-8 Million later!
The bothersome trend of wasting energy, time, and money continues. For example, according to a 2008 Education Capital Project Financial Report, $355,214.78 (est.) was paid in fees to another architectural group (Weeks, Ambrose, McDonald) for moth balled architect plans for old drawings of Highland Park School and co-joining Loudon Elementary School (LES)/Ft. Loudon Middle School (FLM). Although co-joining the two campuses LES & FLM is part of Phase 1 School Building Program, this project remains on hold until a new Ft. Loudon Middle School is built. It is questionable whether any of the old drawings will ever be utilized in the near future.
And at the May 5th school board workshop meeting, former school director Wayne Honeycutt informed school board members that an invoice for $180,893.67 was still owed to architect Don Shell for services rendered. Although Commission just approved giving the school board $250,000 for redoing the Greenback School plans don't be too surprised when the school board comes back and makes a request for more money. Below is a copy the itemized bill dated March 31, 2011, for the proposed Greenback School for schematic design, design and development, construction document, and bidding and negotiation; and please don't forget to add another $250,000.00 of your hard earned money for the re-do. Please see Community Tectonics Invoice and More information about INVOICE links below:
Click to see Community Tectonics Invoice pdf
Click to see More Information about INVOICE (04-12-11) pdf
Outstanding amount due $ 180,893.77 (amount due for original drawings Greenback School)
Fees for revisions to redo drawings $ 250.000.00 (approved by Commission 05-02-11)
Total amount requested $ 430,893.67
Click to see SCHOOL BUILDING PLANS 2011 P1 pdf
Click to see SCHOOL BUILDING PLANS 2011 P 2 pdf (* NOTE: BEFORE GREENBACK REDO-DRAWINGS)
(* NOTE: The School Building Plan is one record that was divided in half for downloading purposes. Depending on your internet speed pdf files may take 1 plus minutes to load because of pictures size.)
Click to see School Board Capital Projects