Friday, January 14, 2011

School board approves $1.6 million maintenance facility

Budget exceeds plant facilities levy estimate by $300,000

Express Staff Writer

Mike Chatterton Julie Dahlgren Paul Bates

The Blaine County school board gave a final stamp of approval Tuesday night to a $1.6 million maintenance and storage facility to be built on Aviation Drive in south Hailey.

The vote was 4-1, with Trustee Paul Bates casting the lone dissenting vote.

"I don't think I was out of line to ask for more time to review it," Bates said in an interview.

The building, officially called the Blaine County School District Maintenance Facility, has been on the district's drawing board for two years and was one of numerous building projects approved for funding by a 10-year, $59.8 million plant facilities levy approved by county voters in 2009.

The levy budget placed a $1.3 million estimate on the building, $300,000 less than the design approved by the board Tuesday night.

District Business Manager Mike Chatterton said Wednesday the $1.3 million estimate was made before architectural and engineering work had been done and before the district had thoroughly examined what was needed.

"When we looked at the $1.3 million, we hadn't really looked at the functionality of the building," Chatterton said.

He said the additional cost is attributable to additional storage space being provided, consolidation of district maintenance operations and improvements for energy efficiency.

Board Chair Julie Dahlgren said in an interview that the district has some latitude in how levy funds are spent.

"We're bound by the total amount, but we have to be realistic about building costs and the economy," Dahlgren said. "Sometimes things change over time. I think we have to be somewhat flexible and still be good stewards of the public's money."

Chatterton said construction will start this spring "as soon as the snow's gone." Completion is projected for January 2012.

The 10,677-square-foot maintenance facility will be built on property the district owns immediately to the north of the Blaine County Public Safety Facility. It will have a loading dock for receiving and dispatching materials and will provide storage space for food and other district supplies. The building also provides a workshop and office space for district maintenance and construction staff.

The building was designed by Hailey architectural firm Vital Ink, which is assisting the district with the approval process with the city of Hailey.

Bates said Wednesday that he's not necessarily opposed to the building, or to the Vital Ink design, but that he wanted more time to consider the plan, especially since it was $300,000 higher than the original estimate.

He said he only saw the proposal on paper, along with two other alternative designs, just prior to the beginning of a presentation Tuesday night by Vital Ink.

"I wasn't ready to vote," Bates said. "I just wanted a little more time to think about it. I was just trying to buy time in case there were questions later."

Bates suggested that a decision be deferred until a board workshop could be held regarding the building.

The plan approved by the board was referred to in the Vital Ink presentation as Option B.

Also considered by the board was Option A, a design that would have provided a 12,601-square-foot building at a cost of $2.1 million.

A third option, listed as Option C, would have provided a 9,267-square-foot building at a cost of $1.5 million.

Terry Smith:

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