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posted: 8/2/2014 7:00 AM

Batavia schools might seek voters' OK to borrow for sports field

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  • Batavia District 101 is considering borrowing money to do building and grounds work at its schools, including installing artificial turf at the high school stadium.

       Batavia District 101 is considering borrowing money to do building and grounds work at its schools, including installing artificial turf at the high school stadium.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Batavia school district might ask voters' permission to borrow $15 million to speed up the district's capital projects work, including installing artificial turf at the high school stadium.

Administrators are recommending the district borrow the money via alternative-revenue bonds. It would pledge to repay the debt out of operating funds it currently budgets for capital projects, at a rate of $1.2 million a year for 20 years.

It could do so without having a referendum, but administrators have suggested asking voters' permission "to ensure transparency in the process," according to a presentation from Kris Monn, the district's assistant superintendent for finance. He discussed the option at a finance committee meeting this week.

If it issued alternate-revenue bonds without putting the matter to a vote, residents could force a backdoor referendum by petition. To do so, at least 7.5 percent of the registered voters would have to sign the petition.

The committee will further discuss the idea Aug. 12. The board would have to vote by Aug. 18 to put a question on the November ballot, according to Monn.

Installing artificial turf is part of a $15 million plan to remodel and repair the athletics fields at the school. The plan, adopted in July 2013, also calls for building a $2.42 million artificial turf field south and east of the stadium, for use by lower-level football, soccer and lacrosse teams, and marching-band practice.

The $4.47 million stadium work would include adding an eighth lane to the track when it is replaced, and building a bigger home grandstand. The district's maintenance shed would be demolished, and the operation moved elsewhere.

The Batavia Bulldogs Booster Club had offered to pay for the turf for the stadium, if the district would front the money. It proposed repaying the cost over 10 years and was willing to sign a contract guaranteeing that.

But the district's attorneys have advised against that, Monn said. "How would you go about enforcing it?" Monn said. The booster club intended to pay for it out of increased membership fees, concessions sales, other fundraisers and by soliciting donations.

Tuesday, the finance committee also reviewed a proposal to hire an engineer to design the new track and stadium field.

Wight and Co. has proposed to design the improvements, for $72,600.

If the board approves the contract next month, designs would be finished by the end of November, construction bids would be sought in December, the artificial turf would be ordered in January and construction would start in June.

Besides the football field, Wight would design changes for the track and related field events locations.

Turf: Booster Club offered to pay for turf if district fronted money

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