By Bill Short
The Millington School Board has unanimously approved its Capital Projects Budget for the 2018 fiscal year that includes a request for a $5 million bond issue.
Board members took the action during their June 5 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by C. J. Haley and seconded by Roger Christopher.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Chairman Cody Childress noted that the Capital Projects Budget for the current fiscal year included “$4 million in bond money.” But he said the board will request $5 million for the 2018 fiscal year.
Bruce Rasmussen, supervisor of Financial Services for Millington Municipal Schools, said $4 million was the “latest” amount that the board approved early this year. But he noted that there will not be a bond issue in the 2017 fiscal year, which ends on June 30.
Rasmussen acknowledged that the $5 million request for the upcoming fiscal year is “just a projection” of how it will be used.
“Hopefully, it’s going to be used for the Performing Arts Center, whatever the board decides to do,” he said. “So, it’s just to give the city notice that we expect at most right now to ask for at least a $5 million bond.”
In response to a question by board member Larry Jackson, Rasmussen said the $1,950,000 in “Fund 141” has not yet been spent. He noted that all but $11,000 of it will be used in the 2018 fiscal year.
“Because it’s not used this year, it goes down into Fund Balance,” Rasmussen said. “Then, you have to show that you’re going to use Fund Balance to cover your expenses.”
On May 2, 2016, the previous school board approved the Capital Projects Budget for the 2017 fiscal year. One of the line items within it was a $6 million bond issue as a source of revenue for the design and construction of a fine arts building on the Millington Central High School campus.
That budget was then submitted to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, which also approved it.
But at its Feb. 6 meeting, the current school board approved an amendment to the Capital Projects Budget that reduced the amount requested for the bond issue to $4 million.
Dr. David Roper, the school system’s superintendent, said he believed that amount would “sufficiently cover the cost” of the proposed facility.
The board then advertised for bids on the project, but they “came in higher” than Roper was expecting. So, he concluded that it would be “safer” to request a bond issue “ceiling amount” of $5 million.
At an April 20 special called meeting, a majority of the board members rejected the lowest/best bid of $6,368,876 submitted by Fulwood Construction Co. of Olive Branch, Miss., for construction of the proposed new Performing Arts Center.
A motion offered by Haley and seconded by Childress to accept the bid was defeated by a 4-3 vote, with Mark Coulter, Chris Denson, Ronnie Mackin and Jackson dissenting.
Separate motions to amend the board’s Capital Projects Budget for the current fiscal year and to approve it for next year were also defeated by the same four dissenters.
At its May 1 regular meeting, on a motion offered by Jackson and seconded by Coulter, the board voted to seek an architectural study of possible renovations to the Harvell Civic Center that would provide a Performing Arts Center. The motion was passed by a 6-1 vote, with Haley dissenting.
At its June 5 meeting, on a motion offered by Christopher and seconded by Childress, the board voted unanimously to negotiate a contract with The Spirit Architecture Group to conduct the study.
By Bill Short