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Commissioners issue millions in bonds to pay for new school

By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 10:30 p.m.

Funding for the new middle school in the northern end of Davidson County took another step Tuesday as the Davidson County Board of Commissioners approved county Finance Director Jane Kiker to sell $13 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds.

Additionally, in an effort to only subject the county to one issuance fee, Kiker was authorized to sell QSCB bonds totaling $2 million to finance a portion of the sewer project at Stoner-Thomas and Extended Day schools and the Davidson County Administrative complex.

Kiker will also look to refinance the 1998 Community Oriented Policing Services loan that helped pay for renovation and additions to the Davidson County Courthouse and jail. The county still owes about $5 million of that $11 million project and Kiker said she hopes to refinance the remaining debt at under 4 percent. The current interest rate on the original loan was not available. If the county can refinance to a rate below 4 percent, Kiker said the county could save roughly $300,000 in interest.

A public hearing on the package was scheduled by commissioners for March 22. The total financing contract won’t exceed $20.5 million. Commissioners unanimously approved the motion 6-0 as Commissioner Fred McClure was absent Tuesday but excused by the board.

“It costs a lot to issue those things,” Assistant County Manager Zeb Hanner said of the bonds. “So she bundled them up so you only have one issuance cost instead of one for each.”

The QSCB bonds were made possible by the federal stimulus act of 2008.

It really helped. It was a good deal for us,” said board chairman Sam Watford.We got about all we could have to help finance this school. That’s what really moved this ahead.

The remaining funds to cover the $24.5 million price tag of the new miiddle school will come from the county’s general fund and N.C. Education Lottery revenues.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a $174,000 engineering contract for High Point-based Davis-Martin-Powell to plan a sewer line to connect the new school with the county’s existing pump station at Midway School. Davidson County Purchasing Director Dwayne Childress told the board the county received three responses after inquiring eight firms.

By law, when counties bid contracts for architectural engineering services they are required to do a request for qualification and then determine which firm is most suitable for the job. It is after this assessment that negotiations on price begin, and since Davis-Martin-Powell was deemed most suitable, their $174,000 quote was the only one the county received for such work.

“If you’re not satisfied and can’t reach a fee, then you go to the second-most qualified,” County Manager Robert Hyatt told the board. “You may or may not agree with it but that’s the way the statutes talk about the service.”

The project will lead to the construction of approximately 1,200 linear feet of gravity sewer, 18,000 linear feet of force main line and a wastewater pumping station with onsite stand-by power. The construction of the line is scheduled to be completed in August 2012, just weeks before the school is scheduled to open.

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