Fonda-Fultonville offers $19.8M plan

FONDA – The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District Board of Education on Monday decided to propose a $19.8 million capital project that would require a property-tax increase of about 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The maximum cost of the project will be $19.8 million. State aid would reimburse the district between 83 percent and 90 percent of the cost, officials said. The district would use $750,000 from its Capital Reserve Fund to pay for a portion of the local cost.

District residents will vote on the proposal May 20.

The project includes upgrading school buildings and athletic fields. Plans also include upgrading a fire alarm system and security system, replacing antiquated electrical panels, reconstructing parking lots and sidewalks, removing hazardous materials and upgrading the district’s cogeneration plant.

At Monday’s meeting, the board also brought in its architectural and engineering firm, the Bernier Carr Group of Watertown, to talk about the project.

Joseph Thesier, vice president of architectural engineering at the firm, and architect Jason Jantzi, talked about timelines and what to expect.

District Treasurer Carey Shultz said the firm finished its last project at Fonda-Fultonville on time and within budget.

Thesier reminded board members his firm would not be handling the construction, but would create the design for it.

“We’ll be advising the district because we know the amount of work that can be done,” Thesier said. “We don’t hire the contractors, the bid is sent out and public bidding is done. Making sure you have good contractors is an important step to getting this done on time and within budget.”

If the project is approved, Thesier and Jantzi said they should submit design documents to be reviewed by the state in September so the project can start in June 2015 because the review process takes six months to get an approval.

After the design is approved, the district would have to seek bids from contractors, which takes a month. Thesier said the project should be done in phases so it can be done more efficiently.

“We’re going to have to phase this project,” Thesier said. “We’re going to have to send the initial phase in September on things like removal and replacement. I think that’s the first thing we want to get out of the way. Those are things we can easily get done. Then start working on [the rest of the project] so that we have ample time to get the bids, to get contractors on board because you want to have contractors under contract four months in advance of a major project.”

Board member Bonnie Couture said the capital project is important for the school district.

“I just want to reiterate one more time so that everyone understands, 83 cents of each dollar will come from the state,” Couture said. “Us that live here will pay 17 cents at the most, per dollar. So it’s not like we’re paying 100 cents, we’re paying 17 cents, and if we don’t take advantage of this money from the state, Amsterdam could, or Johnstown could, or Long Island could. Our state taxes would still get higher and higher and higher, but other school districts would be getting the monies to upgrade their buildings, and doing what they could with the state money. It’s our turn. We want to improve our schools. [The students] deserve it, and that’s what we want for the future students of FFCS.”