Funding approved for high school chillers
The Mathews County Board of Supervisors, on a 4-1 vote Tuesday, approved the purchase of two new chillers for Mathews High School at a cost of $200,000.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Holleran told the board that repairs to the chillers since 2012 had been in the neighborhood of $50,000, with one of them breaking down more often than the other. He said that humidity build-up caused by the malfunctioning chillers had damaged the floor tiles, which had to be replaced, adding to the cost. He said a high school “is supposed to be the showcase of the county,” and pointed out that outside groups use the facility for theatrical productions, concerts and other functions.
With a six-week lag time between ordering the chillers and receiving them because they have to be built, Holleran said, “we’re ready to hit the button go.” Otherwise, work will conflict with the fall opening of school.
During board discussion, supervisor Jack White questioned the wisdom of spending money on the chillers when a state budget hasn’t been approved and the county might have to make unprecedented plans to work off a budget using only local funds until the issue is resolved.
“There’s a speeding train coming our way,” said White. “I don’t want to face the public and say we spent $200,000 on air conditioning for the schools when we might have to close them. I think we should defer.”
County Administrator Mindy Moran explained that the chillers were being paid for with funds saved by refinancing the school bonds. She said that the money could be put toward reducing the indebtedness caused by the bonds, but it couldn’t be used for any other purpose. The board could save $30,000 over the life of the bond issue by purchasing only one chiller, she said, since the purchase of both chillers, while paid for entirely with the money saved by refinancing the bonds, would cause the total interest owed to increase by that much. She said the life expectancy of both chillers is short; one chiller already isn’t working, and “there’s a reasonable expectation the second chiller will fail.”