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Reductions in York County’s Capital Improvements Program could push back the majority of York County School Division construction projects by two years.
During a work session Monday, Dr. Carl James, the division’s chief operations officer, shared an updated list of projects approved by the school board in December and how they would need to be adjusted if county staff’s proposal to cut $22.1 million from the school’s CIP in the next six years is approved.
County staff has proposed a total cut of $96.2 million in the next six years to the county CIP.
School officials have aired concerns with the reductions and deferring projects to later years, which could create greater costs and put the school division in a difficult situation if an emergency repair or replacement is needed on an aging piece of equipment or infrastructure.
York County Proposes Cuts to Capital Funds; School Division Concerned
The reductions are also splitting the construction of a new elementary school in subsequent years. Construction for the new school, which is meant to alleviate overcrowding at Yorktown and Magruder elementary schools, is budgeted for $13.8 million in fiscal year 2018 and $9.2 million in fiscal 2019.
A total of $3.5 million has been budgeted in fiscal 2017 for land acquisition, if the county has to purchase land, and architecture.
The school division has never funded the construction portion of a project over multiple years.
In an interview with WYDaily, County Administrator Neil Morgan said he saw no issue with funding construction projects across multiple years.
“That’s really no big deal. Lots of organizations show big projects over two years because that’s the time it’s actually going to take to build,” Morgan said. “In terms of cash flow, planning purposes, why put all $25 million into one year when it’s going to take two years to build. That’s just smoothing out the cash flow.”
James said when funding in multiple years a number of unknowns are present, which could prove troublesome for contractors and funding the project.
He said timing could be affected if funding is not there to continue one part of the construction project to another, putting a halt to the construction, which could also affect overall cost if contractors have to start and stop work.
Contractors may also increase prices if the money has yet to be approved once construction begins, James said.
Trailers, or modular classrooms, are becoming a recurring capital expense, including upfront cost to move the unit on location and continued lease payments. The school division has budgeted $1 million in fiscal 2017, as well as $200,000 and $150,000 the following fiscal years, for trailers.
“Those are dollars that we are spending there that could be put to a particular use,” James said.
A roof replacement at York High School and the repair and replacement of the Grafton School Complex HVAC system would be delayed two years to fiscal 2020, though the architecture and engineering for the York High roof would remain in fiscal 2017.
Roof replacement at Grafton and Yorktown Elementary School would stay budgeted for fiscal 2017 among other projects.
James said his staff looks at the age of the project, repair history, condition and how much funding is available, and then prioritize.
“We have needs, but we only have so much money,” James said “We understand the complexity of that decision and what it may mean for us if something should happen.”
Despite a number of projects being pushed back, Superintendent Victor Shandor said there is an opportunity to move projects up as well as staff reviews projects year to year.
Only the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, would be set in stone if the current six-year plan is adopted with the budget in May. The other five years are a blueprint to help the CIP process each budget season.