BY DAVID FISHER
During a meeting of the Weakley County Commission on Thursday, Sept. 14, Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing a bond issue not to exceed $8 million to cover the cost of installing new HVAC units at Dresden K-8 and Westview High School.
The money will be procured through a USDA loan for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, enlarging, improving, and/or extending the HVAC system at the two schools, as needed.
Commissioners state since the HVAC project will be funded through a bond issue, it will not require raising property taxes.
The contract was awarded to TRANE, which was the low bidder for the project. The company has agreed to install HVAC units at Westview for $3,110,072 and at Dresden K-8 for $4,738,243. The aggregate cost for both schools totals $7,848,315.
TRANE includes a full five-year warranty for all materials and labor, plus a 10-year heat exchanger warranty.
The urgent need to replace the aging and failing HVAC systems at Dresden K-8 and Westview was stressed during a recent Public Safety Committee meeting. At that time, technicians, whose job it is to service the equipment, informed the committee that they can no longer purchase parts for the HVAC units. They noted, once the units become defective, they have to cannibalize other units to get the parts they need. Also, the technicians have been crafting some of the simpler parts themselves, in an attempt to keep the units operating.
Currently, 51 percent of the HVAC system at Westview and 76 percent of Dresden Elementary School need to be replaced.
Upgrading the HVAC systems will meet the heating, ventilation, air conditioning requirements at both schools. It will also satisfy the indoor air quality and energy codes, and address deferred maintenance and aged equipment issues, which would otherwise require the use of capital funds in the immediate future.
A breakdown of the HVAC systems to be installed in the schools is as follows:
- Westview High School – Trane will provide all materials and labor necessary to install: eight rooftop units, eight ductless split systems, 21 classroom package units, two split-system heat pumps, and two electric heaters.
- Dresden K-8 School – Trane will provide all labor and materials necessary to install: seven fresh air units, eight rooftop units, four ductless split systems, and 39 classroom package units. All of the work noted is primarily in the elementary sections of the school.
Both projects include the removal and proper disposal of the existing HVAC equipment and piping. Trane will provide all of the equipment and labor necessary to install the new units.
Trane estimates an annual energy and operational savings of $22,000 at Westview High School and $11,000 at Dresden K-8 by implementing the project.
The estimated project completion date is July 24, 2024.
Detention Center Grant
A resolution budgeting $179,000 in grant funding from the CDC, through the Tennessee State Department of Health, was approved by unanimous vote. The purpose of the additional funding is for the mitigation of COVID in confinement facilities at the Weakley County Detention Center.
According to Sheriff Terry McDade this is a 100 percent grant and requires no local matching tax dollars.
The grant covers the purchase of several items as follows: two heavy-duty commercial grade washers and a dryer for the jail, costing $67,000; a vehicle for transporting prisoners, priced at $42,000; mattresses for the jail costing $35,000; prisoner uniforms valued at $25,000; and $10,000 for cleaning supplies.
SRO Officer Grant
A resolution authorizing amendments to the General Fund that budgets an additional $81,519 received from a Public Safety Grant through the State of Tennessee was unanimously approved. These funds are intended to help cover expenses related to school resource officers.
The grant helps to cover the pay and benefits for the SROs. It also provides funding for each of the SRO offices to be equipped with a safe to lock up evidence. Additionally, the SROs will be issued patrol rifles paid for by the grant.
The amended budget, which indicates the amount of money that will be disbursed to the individual line items, includes: law enforcement equipment = $35,236; prisoner uniforms = $5,000; law enforcement supplies = $1,100; this leaves $40,183 in the unassigned fund balance.
Conveyance of Surplus Property
A resolution authorizing the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department to convey surplus property to a local municipality was also on the agenda.
The resolution transfers ownership of a 2018 Ford Taurus from the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department to the Gleason Police Department.
According to Sheriff McDade, the patrol vehicle will need a lot of work and it will take a lot of money to fix it. It is estimated the surplus vehicle would probably not bring much at a public auction anyway ($1,000 – $1,500), due to its poor condition.
Since the WCSD has no further use for the vehicle and Gleason P.D. needs another patrol car, McDade stated it would be in the best interest of the public for the conveyance be approved.
The Commission approved the resolution 18-0.
School Board Donates Pay Raise to Purchase Technology
A resolution that transfers $10,658 out of the salary budgets of school board members and moves these funds into a different line item in the General Purpose School Fund was also considered by the County Commission.
Members of the Weakley County School Board agreed to donate the pay raises they were awarded in the FY 2023-2024 budget to go toward the purchase of technology for Weakley County students.
The reason given for the salary donation is due to the County Commission transferring 0.3 cents of each tax dollar out of the General Purpose School Fund and moving it into the Highway Fund. This results in the School Fund receiving .42 cents and the Highway Fund .1631 cents of each tax dollar.
Commissioner Brian Dunavant argued these funds should be returned to the General Fund. However, Commissioner David Hawks pointed out there is no new money involved. He stated the funds are already in the General Purpose School Fund and would simply be transferred from one line item to another.
When it came to a vote, the resolution was approved 17-1, with Dunavant casting the only “no” vote.
Senior Centers Receive Additional Funding
A resolution authorizing amendments to the General Fund that budgets additional grant funding from the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, was approved by unanimous vote.
The grant provides $16,000, which will be evenly dispersed between the senior centers in Dresden and Sharon, with each receiving $8,000 for food supplies. Adult Basic Education Grant
The Commission approved a resolution budgeting an additional $20,000 the General Purpose School Fund has received through an Adult Basic Education Grant from the State of Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. This funding is to allow for the payment of American Job Center infrastructure costs during FY 2023-2024.
Vocational Education Grant
A resolution dealing with transferring vocational grant funding, from the FY 2023 to the FY 2024 budget was approved.
The Weakley County School System was awarded a $78,058 Vocational Education Grant in FY 2022-2023 that was not fully expended and was not included in the FY 2023-2024 budget. This resolution transfers these funds into this year’s budget, and are intended to be utilized to purchase vocational equipment costing $71,065, and for other supplies and materials in the amount of $6,993.
The grant is provided through the Supporting Postsecondary Access in Rural Counties initiative known as SPARC.
SPARC, which is a targeted initiative to engage local constituencies and education stakeholders in an effort to bridge, if not resolve, three identified obstacles: infrastructure need, geographic access to higher education, and unmet need for additional career and technical education dual enrollment opportunities. The SPARC counties are universally rural and have historically struggled to meet the expectations of the State’s Higher Education Master Plan around postsecondary access and success.
SPARC is associated with the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education, which is referred to by the Acronym GIVE.
The community grant program is designed to foster long-term regional partnerships between Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, community colleges, industry, economic development/workforce agencies, and K-12 to identify and address “skills gaps” in local workforce pools. The primary goal of GIVE is to ensure that Tennessee’s education institutions are producing the credentials employers need while also driving new industry to the state through data-driven, collaborative work.
Data Processing Equipment
A resolution authorizing budget amendments to the General Fund transfers $4,000 out of restricted fund balance for additional data processing equipment, which the Weakley County Clerk needs for the efficient operation of her office. The resolution was approved by all members present.
Coordinated School Health
Commissioners approved a resolution budgeting an additional $2,000, which Weakley County Schools have been awarded through Coordinated School Health from the State of Tennessee. This funding is to improve staff wellness in Weakley County Schools. The additional funding will be used to purchase incentives for staff participating in wellness activities.
Additional State Aid Funding
The Commission approved a resolution budgeting $2,991,400 in additional funding the Weakley County Highway Department will receive for State Aid roads from the State of Tennessee through the Transportation Modernization Act. This funding is to be used to improve or rehabilitate roads on the State Aid system.
During elections of officers, County Mayor Jake Bynum was reappointed chairman of the Weakley County Commission, and Commissioner Donald Doster was reappointed pro-tem.
Both of these officers were appointed by acclamation, with all members present.
The next board meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. at Dresden High School.