ELY –ISD 696 school board members adopted a resolution last week officially canvassing the returns of the $10 million referendum vote held on Aug. 11 and officially began the district’s …
ELY –ISD 696 school board members adopted a resolution last week officially canvassing the returns of the $10 million referendum vote held on Aug. 11 and officially began the district’s facility renovation project.
School board chair Ray Marsnik highlighted the vote totals from the five voting precincts in the district. The referendum received approval of 65 percent of the votes cast, 1,110 “yes” votes and 597 “no” votes.
In the city of Ely, voters approved the referendum by a 708-337 margin. Morse Township showed a 320-208 margin. In Winton, the vote was 38-16. The official vote in two unorganized townships included supportive vote margins of 14-7 and 30-29.
School board members also adopted a resolution last week providing for the sale of general obligation bonds to finance the project.
Matthew Hammer, representing the district’s financial advisor, Ehlers and Associates, of Roseville, described that process.
“The most important step in this process was the successful vote of your referendum, and the next step is to authorize the sale of the bonds as well as to authorize the participation in the state credit enhancement program,” Hammer said.
He noted that the state of Minnesota provides an additional level of insurance for those who purchase the bonds in case the school district is unable to meet its obligations. ‘Interestingly enough, this program has never been used before but it does provide that extra assurance,” Hammer said. “Right now, interest rates are at historic lows so it will be a really good time to sell bonds this fall.”
At a study session this week, Ehlers’ senior municipal advisor Jodie Zesbaugh confirmed to ISD 696 officials that now “is a good time” to be in the municipal bond market.
As officials planned for the referendum this past summer, an interest rate of 3.25 percent was forecast.
“We now expect that rate to be slightly over two percent,” Zesbaugh said. “As a result of the interest rates being that much lower, we should have a savings of $1.4 million as compared to the initial schedules we prepared prior to the election.”
The school board facilities committee met last week with the architect and construction managers. ISD 696 Superintendent Erik Erie updated school board members at a study session Monday night. He said that the $1.6 million Long Term Facilities Maintenance bond, a part of the overall voter-approved $10 million referendum package, will be sold early next year.
“We can have a limited number of bonds sold in a calendar year,” he explained. Certain aspects of the building project fall under the long-term maintenance category of the total project.
Four bidders were interested in the Memorial building roof project, according to Erie. He said he will be recommending to the board next month that Range Cornice and Roofing Co., of Hibbing, be approved to complete the project. They submitted the lowest bid of $307,317.
“They may be able to start the project before winter, and if not, they will address the current roof issues we do have on the Memorial building to make sure we are buttoned up for the winter,” Erie said.
As the district’s architect, Architectural Resources, Inc., completes the design phase of the project, company officials will be on hand during a teacher workshop day on Sept. 2 to take staff input on the building project.
“They feel this is a critical piece as they prepare designs. They are optimistic they can go for construction bids in January and start construction in May,” he said
School board members and district officials will be on hand for a special meeting on Sept.23 to open bids for the $10 million bond sale. “We should have funds available by Oct. 15 to start construction,” Erie said.
Outgoing school board member James Pointer suggested that the vacant boiler building, standing between the Memorial and Washington buildings, be demolished this fall to give construction crews a head start in the spring.
Board chair Ray Marsnik noted that electrical wiring and plumbing pipes are located under the building and added that the building razing will need to be coordinated as infrastructure changes are made during the project.
“Those issues need to be addressed before we demolish the building,” he said.
Erie said on election night that he looks forward to beginning the campus construction process.
“There could be shovels in the ground next spring,” Erie said. “We will need the 2021 and 2022 building seasons, and hopefully be completed and ready to go in the fall of 2022.”
For more information on the school facility project, call Erie at 218-365-6166. Details are also available on the ISD 696 website, www.ely.k12.mn.us.
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