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LH taxpayers may see hike in real estate taxes

| Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Taxpayers in the Laurel Highlands School District will pay an additional .467 to .902 in real estate taxes to fund an estimated $40 million construction/renovation project at the senior high school.

Superintendent Jesse Wallace presented four options to school board members last week. The school board will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday to make a decision on the project.

The options range from a basic renovation bid of $31.76 million to a project that includes the addition of classroom space and a swimming pool at a cost of $42.9 million.

The two other options call for renovation work and additional classroom space for an estimated $37.13 million and renovation work and the construction of a swimming pool at a cost of $37.6 million.

Wallace told school board members that he is recommending the most expensive option because it will provide what the district will need at the senior high school for the next 30 years.

“This option will meet all of the school district's needs,” Wallace said. “We have nine teachers who are using carts at the high school right now because they don't have classrooms. All of the teachers should have their own rooms.”

Wallace said the option will also meet the community needs because it will provide additional classroom space for adult learning in the evenings.

“The construction of the new swimming pool will provide a place for the swim team to have their meets and it will provide an opportunity for creative curriculum options,” he said.

Under the plan, Wallace said the cost of the base bid would be $27.1 million, including general construction work, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, asbestos, technology and food service equipment.

The construction of the swimming pool would cost an additional $4.35 million. The total cost of the classroom addition is estimated at $4.9 million, Wallace said.

Wallace said the total cost of the construction is estimated at $36.3 million plus an additional 18 percent or $6.54 million for soft costs.

If the school board selects this option, Wallace said, it will pay back an estimated $4.1 million each year for the next 25 years.

“I've been working on putting together these options,” Wallace said. “I wanted to make sure that the school board members had enough time to review these options before they take a vote next week.”

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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