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Freeport Area's football field runs into unexpected work

| Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, 11:05 p.m.

Just a few months into construction on the $3.5 million football field in Buffalo Township, Freeport Area School District has run into unexpected work.

Following soil test boring at the site next to the Freeport Area High School track, tons more topsoil than expected needed to be removed to create a suitable base for the concession and ticket booth building and access driveway, said school board president Dan Lucovich.

The school board Wednesday approved paying Pennsylvania Soil and Rock up to $70,000 to remove the topsoil. The additional work included replacement of a stormwater pipe that was uncovered during the work.

Dennis Russo, the district's representative on the project, said the excavation work in the building location is already done at a cost of about $32,000.

He estimated the total cost likely would not exceed $50,000.

The school board asked Russo to look into selling the topsoil in bulk quantities to recoup some of the money.

Russo said contractors are making good progress on the project. The footers for the concession stand and ticket booth are poured and the building block work has begun. Underground plumbing work is also under way, and soon stormwater holding tanks will be installed under the field area.

The tanks will collect, hold and slowly release water drained from the artificial turf field.

The $3.5 million athletic complex is expected to be finished in time for the 2016 football season.

Middle school work

The board approved a total of $76,200 in additional payments to Shipley Plumbing for work at the new Freeport Area Middle School.

The increase beyond the original contract was due to unforeseen work caused by design and product changes required by the gas and water companies that service the school, as well extra excavation needed to lay the sewer line from the building to the sewer main, officials said.

Business Manager Ryan Manzer said the district is using contingency funds for the additional expenses.

He said the $33 million project is still within budget.

(Very) preliminary budget OK'd

The school board approved the district's preliminary 2016-17 budget, which is required by the state for districts that want the option to raise taxes beyond the state-imposed ceiling of 3.2 percent.

The $30 million preliminary budget includes an additional $1.5 million in property tax revenue, Manzer said.

He said that type of tax increase is well beyond anything he will be recommending later this year.

He said a tax increase is required in a preliminary budget when a district seeks to raise millage beyond the state limit.

Manzer told the board that the district is in good financial shape following the state's release of $5 million in funding for the district. The money includes federal funds, as well as transportation funds, reimbursements for Social Security and pension payments and basic education funding.

The money has been owed to the district since July because lawmakers can't agree on a state spending plan. In December, the governor signed a partial budget that released half of what districts were owed.

Manzer said he doesn't expect another basic education subsidy payment until next school year.

“But that's OK,” he said, “we're still in a good spot financially.”

Jodi Weigand is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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