District borrows $4M for project
The cost for Marysville stadium renovation project, originally listed at $8.9 million has since pushed up to $11.3 million, with the high school work topping $8.7 million while the new field at Bunsold Middle School comes in at $2.6 million.
Both the high school and middle school stadium projects experienced delays that forced some fall home contests to be moved to facilities in other districts. As the stadium project gains momentum toward an overall completion date in November, district officials were recently asked what they would do differently if they could start over.
In retrospect, initial attempts to keep Marysville’s graduation ceremony local ultimately backed up the timeline of the stadium renovation project, according to local officials.
District Treasurer Todd Johnson said the desire to not impact high school graduation with the stadium renovation created some of the issues the project timeline.
Superintendent Diane Mankins said she was originally steadfast in her resolve that work would not interfere with graduation, traditionally held at the football stadium. Officials began the bidding process with a spring 2019 start date in mind.
Original estimates for the cost of the work were set too low and bids in November 2018 came in high, forcing the project to be rebid. Part of the problem was the labor and overtime costs needed to meet the accelerated timeline.
District officials and the board of education agreed to allow graduation to be held in another facility, meaning demolition work at the stadium could begin sooner and the second round of bids came in at an acceptable level.
Johnson said if the district had planned to move graduation from the outset, bids could have been solicited earlier in the year and work could have begun sooner.
But even with a late bidding process, officials felt they had enough of a buffer to complete the work before the first home football game. As it turned out, a wet spring and compounding construction issues burned through the available time buffer, forcing the first two home varsity football games to be moved and Homecoming to be pushed back two weeks.
Bunsold construction also saw delays based on drainage issues on a portion of the site and the spring rains.
The timeline wasn’t the only aspect of the project that forced district officials to respond to changing conditions. The financing of the project was an ever-moving target.
Officials had initially said they planned to generate more than $4 million through fundraising efforts, but Johnson now admits that figure was unrealistic. Mankins said the district was also trying to solicit money at a time when residents were already being asked to support projects at Memorial Hospital and the Avalon Theater.
“People here are generous but they don’t have endless funds,” Mankins said.
Fundraising to date has brought in about $1.3 million dollars. Mankins said a firm, which was paid $63,000 to assist the district in its fundraising efforts, was helpful in identifying potential donors and what they might contribute, organizing the timeline associated with the tiered donation schedule and prepping officials on how to approach donors.
After the donations, the district is still responsible for $10 million in project costs. It had initially pledged $4.5 million in existing permanent improvement money toward the project, leaving another $5.5 million to be covered.
This is where a fortunate financial forecast for the district, saved the project, at least in part. Special taxing districts in the area, called Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, cover areas such as Colemans Crossing, City Gate and Cooks Pointe, helping to pump additional money into the coffers of the schools, city and county.
In recent years, these districts have been outperforming estimates by about $1 million per year.
“That’s what made it possible,” Johnson said.
According to Mankins, TIF money collected by the district is deposited into permanent improvement (PI) funds, making it available for use on the stadium project.
“Based on the community feedback in the stadium and other PI projects … the money was earmarked for PI,” Mankins said.
While officials have committed to put TIF money toward permanent improvements, Mankins said the district now has discretion on how to use the funds. She said future TIF revenue could be deposited into operating, PI or bond funds.
TIF money and a $4-million Tax Anticipation Note covered the remaining cost of the project. Mankin said the note has a 10-year repayment schedule but the district plans to pay it off in five years.
Mankins said when she came to the district residents approached her with facility concerns that included resurfacing the tennis courts, putting artificial turf on the football field and replacing the rapidly deteriorating track.
The tennis courts were redone a few years ago, and she hopes the new facilities currently being completed meet the expectations of the community.Johnson noted that all of the facility work was done without increasing taxes.
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