More details told of HS/regional academy costs

A more detailed cost breakdown of the proposed new Greene County High School and regional academy was provided Friday by school superintended Tim Christensen.

The high school accounts for about one-third of the total cost at $12.5 million. Cost for the gymnasium is $3.75 million and the performing arts center adds $2.85 million.

Conceptual drawing shows the high school (left) and the career academy (right). | OPN Architects

Cost to build the regional academy, which will be equipped and staffed by Iowa Central Community College, is $5 million.

Renovations at the existing high school are budgeted at $1.7 million. That will allow the building to function well as a middle school for grades 5-8.

The site and site development are pegged at $6.1 million. Owner costs (detailed design, furnishings, fees, insurance and testing) will be $3.58 million.

All costs total $35.48 million.

Funding for the project has been previously detailed. Voters are being asked April 3 to approve the school district issuing $21.48 in general obligation bonds. The bond issue will cover 60.5 percent of the total project cost.

The district would use $4.5 million in revenue from the previously approved physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) and the 1-cent sales tax (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education, or SAVE). According to superintendent Tim Christensen, the $4.5 million is about half what the PPEL and SAVE taxes will generate in the coming years.

Grow Greene County has agreed to provide $4.5 million in funds over the next several years. According Grow Greene County board member Peg Raney, that figure was determined in consideration of other commitments and potential needs and projects in the years ahead. The $4.5 million pledge will not drain Grow Greene County’s resources for the sake of one project.

The Greene County supervisors have agreed to allocate $5 million in tax increment financing (TIF) revenues for the construction of the regional academy. According to Ahlers & Cooney, the law firm setting up the county’s TIF process, the regional academy, with its focus on job training, is an economic development project and fits the state’s guidelines for the use of TIF.

The increment used in the financing will be the added property value created by MidAmerican Energy’s wind turbines in the northeast quadrant of the county.

Board of supervisors chair John Muir has said that $5 million is a small portion of potential TIF revenues, and that funding for roads and bridges will be available.

OPN Architects and a professional cost estimator arrived at the estimate based on space requirements, the cost of similar projects around the country, and current construction costs in the Midwest.

If the bond issue receives the 60 percent “yes” vote needed to proceed, OPN will go from the current concept-level design to schematic designs. Another cost estimate will be prepared. The board of education will be asked to increase or decrease line items if needed to keep the project below the $35.48 million mark.

Click here to see the document as it was provided.

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