Compromise Proposed to Pay Debt for Kate Collins Renovation
Waynesboro City Council is close to reaching a deal to finish paying off millions of dollars on the Kate Collins Middle School renovation project. The city and school board have gone back and forth for years on who owes the debt.
The upgrades finished five years ago, but when state funding dried up the school board struggled to find a way to cover its portion of the tab. Now, the board and council are hoping this compromise will mean everyone can move forward.
When Waynesboro cut the ribbon on its $22 million renovation project at Kate Collins Middle School in 2008, the city was left with a $9 million bill. Each year, the school board paid council back a portion of it using state funding.
But then, according to school board chair Jeremy Taylor, “as of a couple of years ago, the state did away with the lottery proceeds."
Taylor says when state funding evaporated it left a huge hole for the board to fill. "If we had to pay that out of the money that we had to buy school supplies with and that we had to run schools with and that we pay teachers with we would've been in an even worse situation than we ended up in," he stated.
Waynesboro City Councilor Frank Lucente said, "There's been a strain between the school board and the council based on this agreement, which basically went south because of the funding issues."
Now, city council is proposing a compromise that avoids the worst possibilities for both sides. In the compromise, the city would subtract $363,000 from total tax revenue each year and put it toward the Kate Collins debt. Then, it will give the remaining 42.5 percent of tax collections to the school board based on a funding formula in place since 2006.
Lucente stated, "It’s a compromise on a debt that was incurred and the school doesn't have the funds to pay it, so the council has worked out something that we hope will be agreeable to all parties that we'll share this burden with the city."
Taylor said "I think this is a good way of just putting the issue to rest and moving forward.
City Council is expected to vote on the compromise Monday night. The school board meets to discuss the deal Tuesday night. Members expect it will pass both bodies.
Reported by Alana Austin
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