Despite the increase in construction costs, the Clear Creek School District’s bus barn will be located on the track south of the former middle school at a cost of $5.8 million, and the district will borrow money to cover construction costs.
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The school board at a June 21 special meeting voted 3-2 to re-commit to keeping the bus barn — known as the Transportation & Maintenance Facility or TMF — on the track and fund the full expenditure after learning that the project would cost $5.8 million rather than the $1.6 million school district officials planned for.
The board directed Superintendent Karen Quanbeck and Chief Financial Officer Hollie Harlan to prepare the documents to borrow $3.8 million. Harlan had locked in a 3% interest rate for the loan if it was completed by June 30. If the board waited until July to borrow money, it would cost the district an extra $500,000 in interest because interest rates are increasing, Harlan said.
Less than two weeks ago, the board directed its consultant and district staff to comb through construction documents to look for cost savings and to revisit about a dozen other sites that the district had considered before the board decided in December to put the building on the track.
They reported that if the school board decided to move the TMF to another property, the district would have to negotiate to purchase additional land, work with other government entities to share facilities or split the facility into two to accommodate the TMF’s functions. That would add more time to the timetable to complete the building.
The board’s two newest members, Jessica North, who joined the board in November, and Kerry Ann McHugh, who joined the board on June 9, voted no because they were concerned about whether the school board had picked the best spot for the TMF. McHugh added that if the decision was just about borrowing the money, she would have voted yes.
Board President Sandi Schuessler countered that it was time for the board to move forward on the project.
“I don’t want to start from the beginning,” she said. “The TMF to me is in the right location. We cannot predict the future. … We can’t paralyze ourselves. I think we need to get our TMF functioning in a direction of moving forward.”
Board member Kelly Flenniken agreed: “The longer we wait, I can assure it will not get cheaper or easier. I agree and appreciate the discussion and all the work that has gone (into looking at the project again), but I want to move forward.”
The district is moving the TMF because it sold the current bus barn property across from the rec center in Idaho Springs and the football field to Four Points Funding in April, and the contract had a 21-month lease-back clause for the bus barn. Therefore, the new facility must be ready by Jan. 26, 2024.
District officials believed the proceeds from the property sale would pay for the new building. The district is not allowed by law to use any bond money approved by voters for the TMF because it was not listed as an expenditure.
The new building is expected to be 6,953 square feet, smaller than the current bus barn, which is 9,700 square feet including the upper level. It is planned to have bus bays, a bus wash, maintenance and storage areas, restrooms and offices.
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