By Gary Lloyd
The Trussville City Council and Trussville City Board of Education on Monday discussed how to fund a new high school football stadium and two new elementary schools.
Mayor Gene Melton said the stadium project — which includes a new stadium, track and Husky Parkway completion — is on track. Phase 3 of an archaeological study began last week and could last between 45 and 60 days.
An estimated completion date for the new stadium could be Aug. 20, 2014, which is about nine days before the 2014 football season begins. Should the stadium’s completion affect a home game, the school system could ask the Alabama High School Athletic Association for an exemption to play a scheduled home game on the road.
Trussville-based Blalock Building Company earlier this month was revealed as the low bidder for the project, with an adjusted base bid — after a $240,000 deduct — of $13,353,900. After six alternate bids for aspects of the project — precast concrete visitor seating, multipurpose field lighting package and overflow parking, kitchen equipment upgrade for the visitor concession, precast concrete for a home side and visitor side expansion and soccer concessions/restroom building — Blalock’s bid totaled $14,626,550.
Board President Bill Roberts recommended all the alternates be included, as well as $250,000 for bleachers at Phil English Field, chair-back Husky seating at Hewitt-Trussville Stadium and loose track and field items.
The school board could vote to award the bid for the stadium project at its July 8 meeting at 8 a.m. at the school system’s central office.
Funding for two new elementary schools to be located at the city’s original high school on Parkway Drive and in the Magnolia Place area dominated Monday’s discussion. Trussville City Schools Superintendent Pattie Neill projected the construction and renovation budget for the school in the Cahaba Project to be $8,997,500, and the construction for the school in Magnolia Place to be $9,133,500. There was also discussion of adding a hardened safe room to the Paine campus for $250,000.
The timeline discussed was the new schools opening in 2015.
The council and board discussed a seven-millage increase as a possible source of revenue to help fund the construction and operation of the schools. A seven-millage increase would cost someone owning a $100,000 home $5.83 per month; someone owning a $200,000 home $11.66 per month; and someone owning a $300,000 home $17.50 per month.
The cities of Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills have ad valorem taxes at a slightly higher rate than Trussville, which helps support their schools. Trussville’s is at five mills, which produces $1.5 million for the city, Melton said earlier this year. Trussville residents would have to vote in favor of an increase, should the possibility arise. Residents in 2010 voted down a possible increase that would have gone toward funding for schools and city services.
School board member Sid McNeal said an increase could guarantee “a healthy system” for the next 10 years. Melton said the talk was “all hypothetical” based on economic climate, though the consideration of a millage increase could come up in February or March of 2014.
“We need to make sure we pick the right time,” Melton said.
Council and board members said the key is developing a “communication strategy” for helping residents understand the ad valorem possibility. Those funds would go “strictly” to building and operating the two schools, Roberts said.
“The schools are integral to the community,” said City Council President Brian Plant.
If a millage increase came up for a vote and was voted down, the city council’s only alternative would be to consider the one penny increase that was designated for capital projects, Melton said.
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