To the Editor: Can we afford this Otsego project?
Written by Jack Dawson   
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 09:10
When I submitted comments one month ago about the Otsego school project, it was only about voting, or not voting. My comments here are only as a taxpayer. My comparison was to what was going on in Washington, D.C. Little did I know that this connection would be tied to the Otsego School District.
When the board decided to proceed with the plan they passed, two questions came to mind. Who would loan $4 million interest free, and why would they do it.
The answers to both questions were found. 1) The funds for the interest free loan are coming from Funding for Education in the American Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA). Financing the Improvements is described in Ohio School Facilities Commission Energy Conservation (OSFC) Program HB 264. Section A describes un-voted indebtedness. 2) The mandated requirements of the federal social engineering having been applied to the OSFC, and this is what Otsego must pay for accepting federal funds. This is the reason many other jurisdictions are rejecting them.
The facts presented by Marie Thomas in her Aug. 29 article are believable to me because I have known her since she was a little girl. She is a professional and would not put something in the paper if she wasn't certain that it was correct, as far as she knew.
Once the $4,100,000 estimate is accepted, the logical thing to do is calculate how much a year we are saving. It is $273,333 per year, if divided by 15. This is money we will not have to pay in interest. However, what we will be required to pay is $650,000 per year to hire 13 new teachers as mandated. For example, a predicted $650,000 for a 15-year period would be $9,750,000. This is an enormous potential liability for a community such as ours. It is slated that the Department of Education has the authority to grant waivers to a district that has lack of space, which we won't because of a new building, or when the district has a lack of funding, which is a good probability.
As to the building design and construction. My work experience, prior to retiring, was as a design build general contractor. This included residential, commercial and industrial projects. The common denominator in all these areas was "design criteria." This criteria was the basis for preparing a preliminary plan that was criticized for function, and preparation of a preliminary budget for feasibility and construction financing. The project architects have approached this project the same way and the board has approved everything. Now the new requirements "are in conflict with guidelines used by the OSFC." "The only direction given by the legislature to OSFC is that it study the new demands."
Keep in mind that these demands were made by the same social engineering people that offered "Cash for Clunkers." Can we afford this? There is a good chance the architects will need to start over.
Jack Dawson
Grand Rapids

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