Renovations at GHS not to exceed $36.6M

Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Apr 10, 2019 - 02:41 PM

Renovations at Gloucester High School will not exceed $36.6 million. The Gloucester County Board of Supervisors made the decision during a budget work session last Wednesday in the colonial courthouse to cap the project at that amount.

This, along with some other projects in the county and school’s Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal year 2020, would impact the county’s real estate tax rate by an increase of eight cents per $100 of assessed value.

During the work session, the board of supervisors received documents on what the school superintendent and school board felt are the most critical elements of what was needed to be done on the aging school. The document also included estimated costs based on the scope of the project.

At that point, at-large supervisor Ashley Chriscoe said the board finally had the information it needed to determine how much supervisors are willing to “burden the taxpayer with a tax increase to fund the necessities in the CIP going forward.”

The $36.6 million of renovations would include essential improvements such as HVAC and roof replacements, fire protection, and safety and lighting improvements. “I think just doing that isn’t quite enough,” Chriscoe said. That figure will also give the school board some options to fund some other things at the school it deems as important.

“That gives us a path forward, gives the schools a path forward and gives them the option to have some decision,” Chriscoe said.

Supervisors also addressed the school board’s request to hold a referendum to let voters decide what they would like the scope of renovations to be at the high school, and if they would be willing to pay upwards of $57 million for a full-scale renovation.

“Waiting for a referendum, I think, is doing a disservice to the students at the high school, and the teachers,” said Abingdon district supervisor Robert “JJ” Orth, as such a move could push back actual work by months or longer.

Last week, supervisors had a model provided by the county’s financial advisor, Davenport and Company, where costs could be plugged in to show how each cost scenario would impact the county’s tax rate.

As a start, the board plugged in $40 million into the model for the GHS renovation. The upfront real estate tax rate impact on $40 million plus the county and school system’s complete overall CIP would be 9.26 cents per $100 of assessed value, according to the Davenport model. At a $38 million renovation, the increase would be just shy of nine cents.