Penquis Valley facility upgrade underway

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MILO — With students away on summer vacation, the Penquis Valley School is a construction site with hallway ceiling tiles down and stacked on the floor as part of the work to make way for an upgrade to the heating system.

“We’re ripping and tearing as you can see walking in, it’s a good crew,” Director of Building and Grounds Donnie Richards said during a July 10 school board meeting.

Earlier this year SAD 41 voters overwhelmingly approved a $2.4 million funding package to upgrade the school heating system. The vote was 152-25 with the referendum approved in each district community: 7-1 in Atkinson, 55-9 in Brownville, 19-5 in LaGrange and 71-10 in Milo.

Penquis Valley School Milo

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
CONSTRUCTION SITE — Work on a heating system upgrade is underway at the Penquis Valley School in Milo. Earlier this year SAD 41 voters overwhelmingly approved the $2.4 million project funding package, via a count of 152-25.

The Penquis Valley project has three objectives. The first is to update the steam heating system infrastructure that is beyond its useful life, to improve reliability, comfort, indoor air quality and safety. The other objectives are to reduce annual energy and operating costs and reduce future building repair costs.

The gross projected project cost is $2,414,923, with a little more than $2.1 million for the steam to hot water system conversion, another $190,000 is for LED lighting upgrades and an additional is for $34,700 for building weatherization improvements.

The project is being financed under a 20-year bond through the Maine Municipal Bond Bank. The estimated annual bond cost, fixed for two decades starting with the 2020-21 fiscal year, is $177,694 but there would be various measures in place to reduce the costs.

SAD 41 would have a little more than $19,000 in existing budget savings for energy usage and another $40,000 in operating budget capital contributions. The Honeywell service contract would be reduced by $25,000, the maintenance budget could decrease by $2,500 and for the first year there would be a one-time Efficiency Maine rebate of $29,195.

The first year $61,953 cost is part of the 2019-20 academic year budget. SAD 41’s estimated total net cost, after the various savings measures such as reduced energy expenditures and a reduction in the Honeywell contract, over 20 years would be $744,143. The annual portion of the $744,143 to be paid by the district would vary year by year.

The loan and contract with Honeywell were both executed in late March. Construction began in early June with substantial completion set to be done by late September and the project sign off is Nov. 29.

“The elevator is on schedule,” Richards said about another building project. “That should be done on schedule before school starts at the end of August.”

The directors also formally approved the poll numbers for the 2019-20 SAD 41 budget of approximately $9.6 million from the June 27 referendum, signing a pair of documents to enact the spending plan.

“One of the things on your agenda tonight is to approve the computation and declaration of votes,” Superintendent Michael Wright said in his report.

“In Brownville the vote was 35 yes and 15 no, LaGrange 16 yes and 5 no and Milo 101 yes and 17 no,” he said. “The total vote was 152 yes and 37 no.”

“Article 2, and it’s asked every three years, is do you want to continue with the school budget validation process and it’s usually yes,” Wright said. He said citizens voted to continue with the annual district budget meeting/referendum process for three more years by a count of 139-50 (34-15 in Brownville, 18-3 in LaGrange and 87-32 in Milo).

Per state statute this question is on the ballot every three years, otherwise there would only be the district budget meeting to approve the yearly district finances.

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