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Chesapeake athletic complex may not be ready for fall

 

CHESAPEAKE — It appears unlikely that Chesapeake schools will start the autumn 2012 sports season with a completed athletic complex.

“I don’t see how we could start football in the fall,” Dr. Scott Howard, Chesapeake school district superintendent, said. “We are working on a contingency plan (for a venue for the athletes.)”

Howard made his comments following a meeting of the county’s Investment Advisory Committee Thursday. The superintendent was seeking $1 million from the county’s new Neighborhood Investment Program to cover part of the approximately $1.7 million cost for Phase I of the proposed athletic complex.

In September the then board of education voted unanimously to move 2 mills from the district’s 4.5 millage used for operating expenses to permanent improvements. That would partially fund the more than $3 million project to build a new football field and track with bleachers, press box and concession stand.

Recently County Treasurer Stephen Burcham started the investment program where the county would purchase the bonds of political subdivisions including villages, townships and school districts at a lower rate than the subdivisions could get at a bank. However the rate offered is to be higher than what the county can currently get on certificates of deposit from banks.

Howard wanted funding for the first phase that includes installing turf and bleachers and finishing up the demolition of the old stadium. However he sought a 10-year period and House Bill 225, which modifies the law that allows counties to provide funding, limits the amount that can be lent to 10 percent of investable assets for 10 years.

Already the county has reached that after buying bonds from the village of Proctorville and Fairland school district.

Burcham said it was his understanding that he could offer terms of five years or less without a limit on the amount, but would want a legal opinion on whether the county could exceed the 10 percent limit on a 10-year bond issue.

“The big issue is whether you have the flexibility to exceed 10 percent,” Howard told the committee. “We have to have the deal done by the end of May to meet the payment requirements on Phase I. I see too many roadblocks.”

And the superintendent said the district didn’t have the cash flow to meet the repayment obligation for five-year terms.

Burcham was offering the district a 2.15 interest rate. Howard said he was meeting with another financial institution on Monday to work on a funding package.

“I have another financing package that is very competitive,” Howard said.

Howard declined to name the financial institution that may provide funding.

Original discussion about the complex during school board meetings focused on whether a timetable that suggested completed construction by August was possible.

The district will have a community meeting at 6 p.m. April 16, before the regular monthly board meeting with architect MSA Sport to give an update.

“Everybody would like to have it ready by the fall,” board president Jerry Osborne said. “But there are so many factors and variables. … Everything has to be signed off properly.”

The school’s athletic director is working on a plan to find a venue for the fall sports program, Osborne said.

“We will play. It will probably be at other fields,” he said. “We might miss a few games, might miss the whole season (at the new complex). We will have a football season.”