Meeting on school lease revenue bonds

Beth Sergent -

POINT PLEASANT —The second reading of an ordinance to secure financing to pay for renovations to the former Moose property, creating the new home for Mason County Schools’ administrative staff, is set for next week.

The Mason County Building Commission will vote on the second reading at 11 a.m. Monday in the county commission meeting room at the Mason County Courthouse. The ordinance requires an additional public hearing and a third and final reading. The public hearing is 11 a.m. Dec. 2, followed by that final reading, all held in the county commission room at the courthouse.

The Mason County Board of Education has asked the building commission to approve a lease revenue bond agreement for not more than $1.4 million to finance costs of the construction, renovation, improvement, furnishing and equipping of the Kiwanis Boulevard property located just past Krodel Park on W.Va. 2.

As previously reported, though the county is the actual bonding authority, the Legislature created the building commission format to allow financing for projects beyond one year, as the county commission itself can only borrow money for 12 months at a time. If financing is secured, the project would be paid with money from the Mason County Board of Education acting as the lessee of the property, with terms on the project from a lending institution not to exceed 16 years at a fixed rate not to exceed five percent interest.

Finding these lending institutions to submit financing proposals on this project will be representatives from the Piper Jaffray firm of Charleston. The building commission approved the firm as the placement agency with financing expected to be in place by the first or second week of December.

The county has acted as the bonding authority on projects like the Mason County Health Department and the Mid-Ohio Valley Center in the past. Despite being the bonding authority, Camden Siegrist, attorney for the Mason County Board of Education, has said this in no way obligates the county commission, nor does it raise taxes. Seigrist also said there is a deed of trust on the property so if there were ever a default in the agreement, there is recourse for the bond holder to foreclose on that deed of trust.

The controversial project has not been without its critics in the community, with the board of education maintaining renovating its current home to meet Americans with Disabilities Act regulations would be too costly.

The funds from the bonds would go toward financing only the administrative office space. As indicated in previous stories, the Mason County Board of Education proposed in the future, there is the potential to place classrooms in the remainder of the 28,000-square foot building. A school official has said, refurbishing classroom space requires very specific criteria and specifications which may require even more funding, with the West Virginia School Building Authority as a possible funding source, again, in the future.

On Sept. 22, seven contractors submitted bids on the project with Mid-Atlantic Construction having the lowest bid at $1,035,150 with 130 days of possible construction, allowing staff to start moving into the building in July 2016. There is no word yet on what will be done with the current central office building.

Last week, the Mason County Commission reappointed Dale Humphreys and John Collins to new terms on the building commission. The county commissioners also filled the vacancy on the building commission by appointing Mindy Kearns who will attend her first, official meeting next week.

Beth Sergent

Reach Beth Sergent at or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.

Reach Beth Sergent at or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.