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$3.16 Million Construction Bond on Peekskill Ballot

Renovation of high school cafeteria, kitchen tops list of projects at 3 buildings

Desire to improve school facilities outweighed concern about long-term cost as the Peekskill Board of Education voted 4-2 to place a $3.16 million bond proposition before district voters May 17. The vote Tuesday, March 29, sidelined a more limited proposal to spend $2.1 million.

Voicing such sentiments as “Let’s move our district forward,” “The work needs to be done” and “If not this year, when?” board members Marcela Bobe, Douglas Glickert, Tuesday McDonald and Joseph Urbanowicz voted for the larger proposal. Board President Michael Simpkins, who favored the smaller proposal because he was “leery about the long-term cost” despite a desire for “top-notch facilities,” and board member Lisbeth Bock voted against the $3.16 million plan. The seventh board member, Fran Feuerman, was absent.

The board then unanimously approved Fuller and D’Angelo of Elmsford as project architect, Bernard P. Donegan Inc. of Victor, N.Y., as financial adviser and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP as bond counsel; determined that the work would not impact the environment and therefore would not require environmental review or an impact statement under the State Environmental Quality Review Act; and adopted a resolution that the work was necessary.

The votes capped a two-hour presentation and discussion of the physical and financial aspects of the work.

Architect John D’Angelo of Fuller and D’Angelo reviewed components of the capital projects proposition, which he had presented to the board in detail March 15:

  • Peekskill High School – cafeteria and kitchen renovation; expanded fitness center; a larger, pedestrian-oriented plaza at the main entrance; pavement repairs; door and hardware security upgrades
  • Oakside Elementary School – retaining wall repair; wall and roof repair; door and hardware security upgrades
  • Administration Center – repair damaged plaster and renovate floor in gym; repair exterior tennis and basketball courts and retaining walls; door and hardware security upgrades

Total cost of the projects is $3,165,000. The work would have no immediate impact on district taxes, and New York State currently reimburses 70 percent of the cost of school building projects. Major items include:

  • High school – cafeteria, $1.875 million; plaza, $146,000; fitness center, $84,000
  • Oakside – retaining wall, $38,875
  • Administration – gym, $310,500; exterior courts, $195,625
  • All buildings – door and hardware security, $169,187

Urbanowicz emphasized the importance of making sure that all projects qualify for state building aid. He and Glickert suggested incorporating additional recycling receptacles, and Glickert also suggested improved landscaping around the exterior courts at the Administration Center.

D’Angelo said that, if voters approved the proposition in May, state Education Department approval would likely be forthcoming in early 2012, followed by awarding of bids in early spring. Barring unforeseen complications, the work would be completed by summer of 2012.

Charles “Chuck” Bastian of Bernard P. Donegan Inc. offered an overview of the financial aspects of the proposition and of the district’s existing debt obligations. Of the $3,165,000, $2,086,350 is for construction, $790,775 is for incidentals, $200,000 is for the state Dormitory Authority fee and $87,875 is for capitalized interest expenses. Funding the work through the Dormitory Authority is an option that would help the district if interest rates rose between voter approval and issuance of bonds. The capitalized interest covers the cost of the first-year interest payment, which will be due before state aid – which usually takes 18 months to begin arriving – starts to flow, Bastian explained.

Interest rates on the bonds – with a maximum longevity of 30 years – are projected between 4 and 5 percent. Estimated state reimbursement is approximately $198,000 a year for 15 years. The district will borrow $2,055,000 for the project; the remainder will be financed with $1,032,854 in available surplus funds and $77,146 from the repair reserve fund.

Data presented by Bastian showed the district’s total current debt service as $98,211,811 through 2037, of which $61,972,939 is principal and $36,238,872 is interest. State building aid totals $58,457,495, leaving the district responsible for $39,754,316.    

The sidelined $2,120,000 alternative, which would have included only the high school cafeteria and kitchen work, would have been financed with $1,495,000 in bonds and $625,000 from the School Lunch Fund. Bastian listed the costs as $1.5 million for construction, $375,000 for incidentals, $185,000 for the Dormitory Authority fee and $60,000 for capitalized interest. Estimated state aid would have been approximately $137,000 a year for 15 years.

An earlier version of the larger proposition included restroom renovations and cafeteria flooring at Woodside Elementary School and door and hardware security upgrades at Woodside and Hillcrest Elementary School. That work will now be funded through the state’s EXCEL program, or Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning.

The board will continue its work on the budget when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, at the Administration Center, 1031 Elm St. The board is scheduled to adopt the budget for the 2011-12 school year April 12.

elizabeth March 31, 2011 at 06:35 PM
this is crazy how in the world could work in the small high school cafeteria cost 1.8 million what are they doing to it putting in gold also there is no need for a plaza anyone that visits the \high school knows where the entrance is and if they dont they can ask someone as there are always people hanging around outside also why fix the administration tennis courts and basketball courts when there are fine tennis courts and basketball courts in the depew park the school district has never used that area for anything and i know since i have llived in peekskill since 1963 and live a block away also as for the weight room i went to peekskill high school and it was never even used the board members should stop spending the residents money on their pipe dreams
Leslie Lawler March 31, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Agreed, Liz. The line, "the work would have no immediate impact on taxes," is completely laughable. Define immediate. Will it impact our taxes next year? Or the year after that? Further, who was asleep at the buildings and facilities forecast meetings? None of the rocket scientists foresaw that there would be basic necessities such as doors and hardware security or retaining wall maintenance and repairs? I could see how these things could easily have been missed or blatantly ignored with the blinding light of the Taj Mahal Middle School in the their eyes. The taxpayers have had enough of this reckless and mindless spending both at the school district level and from our friends in City Hall. Tighten your belts like everyone else is for pete's sake.
Liz Giegerich April 01, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Thanks for your comments. Here is a more detailed explanation regarding why the work on the projects would have no immediate impact on taxes from Jeff Canning. The architects laid out this time frame for the work: 5/17/11:bond proposition goes before voters. If approved, it goes to the State Ed .Dept .for review, approval expected around 1/2012 Around 3/2012 school district seeks bids and awards contracts; Summer 2012-work is completed. Charles “Chuck” Bastian, the school district's financial adviser for the project, laid out this financial time frame if the proposition is approved 5/17: 6/2012: initial borrowing of funds;6/2013: first interest-only payment due 6/2014: first payment of principal and next payment of interest State aid/reimbursement for such projects generally is not forthcoming for about 18 months, Bastion said. So, the district will borrow money to cover the first interested payment instead of adding that cost to the 2012-2013 budget. The 2013-14 budget, whose debt service component will include the June 2014 first payment of principal and next payment of interest, is the first in which this proposition will affect the tax levy and rate-two years beyond the 2011-12 budget that will be voted upon May 17. The district can begin the work without borrowing money right away. It has a little over $1 million on hand and will bond/borrow the remaining $2,055,000 of the total $3,165,000.
elizabeth April 01, 2011 at 05:02 PM
your right leslie the taxes will not impact us immediately but they will impact us in any case between the citys constant dreams of what they want in peekskill which does not in any way show what the rest of the citizens would like and the dreams of the school district they are all ruining the city and taxing the FEW taxpayers too much why dont the necomes get out on both boards?to the non locals if you dont like the city get out go back to where you came from

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