12/14/08 — Facilities plan gets review Tuesday

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Facilities plan gets review Tuesday

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 14, 2008 2:00 AM

County Manager Lee Smith will update commissioners on the economy and on the Wayne County school system's $22 million facilities plan Tuesday.

Commissioners also will be asked to approve a water agreement with the Eastern Wayne Sanitary District to provide water at Park East.

The commission's regular meeting gets under way in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the courthouse annex with an 8 a.m. briefing session followed by the board meeting at 9 a.m.

County and school staffs met last month after commissioners raised some questions about the schools district's timeline for the plan, which they determined was not specific enough to pass muster with the Local Government Commission (LGC) whose approval is needed if the plan is to proceed.

The LGC requires a "pretty exact" timeline, Smith said.

Also needed was more information on items including asbestos abatement, demolition, drainage and stormwater runoff.

Smith said that even though those items were removed from the project to be paid for out of school funds, the LGC still required more details and specific information.

Also last month, commissioners wanted an update of all of the other school projects.

Commissioners noted that some of the project estimates were from May or even earlier.

The commission also will discuss using school buildings as security for the loans. The county would need current insured values and square footage and would include it on the application for the banks for security collateral. The county would then lease the buildings back to the school system.

The schools currently have insurance through the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Commissioners need to know if that coverage will remain in effect or whether the county would need to obtain its own insurance. That cost would need to be included in cost estimates.

Smith said the county could give a "triple net" lease to the schools in which the schools would pay the county a lease amount, but remain responsible for the insurance, the upkeep and everything else on the facilities.

The final question concerned a timeline for permit approval. The LGC is "very specific" about permits, Smith said.

He added that permitting could be complicated because some schools are located in the county, while others are in Goldsboro and Mount Olive.

About $16.4 million of the project is to be financed with another $4 million to $5 million from the county and schools.

The county plans to use lottery and sales tax proceeds, not property tax revenues, to repay the loan for the schools. Up to $2.5 million in general reserve funds could be used as well.

In other business, the county will consider the agreement with the Eastern Wayne Sanitary District.

The plan calls for the county to build a 500,000-gallon, $800,000 elevated storage tank at Park East and to extend water lines in the industrial park. The county will extend the city's existing 12-inch line on Challen Court through the park to connect to the eastern end of the city's 12-inch water main on Thoroughfare Road. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete.

The county's portion of the project is estimated at $1.29 million. The county has received $500,000 grants from the Rural Center and N.C. Department of Commerce. The county will provide $290,000 in local funding.

A portion of the plan calls for the water district to provide a portion of the city's water needs during water emergencies while the city provides a portion of the water district's long-term daily water needs.

The city approved the water service agreement in November. It is on the Eastern Wayne Sanitary District's agenda in January.

Smith is expected to recommend that commissioners cancel, or if needed, reschedule their Jan. 20 meeting. Several commissioners are expected to be out of the county that day to attend the Leading and Governing: Essentials of County Government Class in New Bern.