Cumberland Times-News

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January 22, 2014

Garrett commissioners OK Capital Improvement Program for schools

OAKLAND — The Garrett County commissioners unanimously approved the board of education’s 2015 Capital Improvement Program during their public meeting Tuesday and gave the board the green light to go ahead with the design phase of the Southern Middle School renovation project, according to Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator.

The $582,4000 design funding for the project is included in the county’s fiscal 2014 budget.

“All projects on the CIP will be reviewed and approved as part of the fiscal year budget approval process,” said Pagenhardt.

Last year the commissioners voted to defer the funding of the project for a year and voiced concerns about being able to fund the project without a tax increase. There weren’t any changes to the county’s budget, according to Pagenhardt.

The project construction date for the the renovation is still under consideration and has not been approved yet.   

“At this time the county is not certain what actual revenue projections will be for forthcoming budget years although our financial model shows an improvement in expected revenue in the next several years,” said Pagenhardt.

The construction of the Southern Middle School project may need to be deferred but the design phase will be completed, which will allow the project to commence when funds are identified by transferring from reserves, by financing, by state match or in other ways, according to Pagenhardt.

The approved fiscal year for construction on the project could be moved out depending on available funding including all other county government projects and the total budget forecast. The total estimated cost for renovation of Southern Middle School is $19,780,000, according to the CIP summary.  

During a board of education work session earlier this month, Rodney Reckart discussed the renovation of Southern Middle School and said funding for it “has been a nightmare” and that the state won’t pay for 20 percent of the construction costs. Reckart asked Mike Gehrof Bushey Feight Morin Architects Inc. if it would be more cost effective to raze part of the building. Gehr said taking off square footage may not be in the best interest and indicated there were other options to explore.

Other projects on the board’s CIP include energy efficency initiatives for Yough Glades, Accident, Crellin, Grantsville and Friendsville and Route 40 elementary schools as well as HVAC upgrades at Southern and Northern high schools.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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