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$5.9 Million Energy Efficiency Project OK'd by School Officials

Looking to cut energy costs, the Shorewood School Board approved the project which is estimated to save the district $181,886 annually, compared to the district's current consumption costs.

Shorewood school officials signed off on an estimated $5.9 million energy efficiency project Tuesday night, which they say will pay for itself over time as the district reaps the benefits of reduced utility costs.

In December 2011, Honeywell/ESG was hired to perform an assessment of the district’s facilities, identifying areas where Shorewood could save money on energy. After the analysis, officials decided to move forward with a slew of projects, 13 of which are self-funding projects totaling $2.3 million and six additional projects, which are not self-funding, costing $3.6 million.

Work included in the project includes utilizing energy efficient lighting, improved lighting controls, patching up areas where there's air leakage and plumbing efficiency improvements across the district, along with projects at most district faclities like installment of a new ventilation system in the high school gym.

To fund the projects, the district will borrow $6 million. But with an estimated , there will be a corresponding decrease in the resident tax levy of an estimated $1,128,518, according to the district. Officials plan to put a minimum of $500,000 of the levy reduction toward the project, reducing the amount of the borrow to $5.5 million.

The district expects to save $181,886 annually, which it will put toward the 15-year, $6 million borrow. Business Manager Mark Boehlke said the district will make interest-only payments until 2019 on the borrow, at which time promissory notes associated with a 2008 renovation will be retired and the district will start making principal payments. Officials say there won't be a net tax levy impact from the project through 2019.

Shorewood also expects $28,000 in rebates through the Focus on Energy, a statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program.

One of the projects officials are still vetting is the replacement of a steam boiler system at Atwater Elementary School. District maintenance staff say it’s on its last leg, and something has to be done. But, the district doesn't want to purchase another steam system, but rather refurbish it for an estimated $80,000 or purchase a hot water system, costing $1.7 million. Officials have budgeted $322,946 for the boiler in the cost of the total project.

Officials hope as they bid out for other projects, they come in lower than their estimates and they can use those funds to purchase the hot water system.

Boehlke said it will depend on the cost of new hot water system on whether the district elects for a new system or to refurbish the current system. Boehlke said a new hot water system is estimated to cost $1.7 million, but they won't really know until they bid out for the system.

“The thought was, why spend $300,000 on a system we don’t want,” he said. “We’d rather limp it along, because if we purchased a new steam system, that’s what we’d have for the next 30 years."

Don Q September 13, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Can someone explain why these boilers were not replaced when Shorewood passed the $10 mil referendum 4 years ago. That money was for the schools deferred maintenance issues. If the boilers at Atwater are "limping along" on their "last legs" why were these not replaced 4 years ago? This funding mechanism seems a little problematic. The school will make interest only payments until 2019 when the 2008 renovation project promissory notes expire. Does that mean that the temporary increase in property taxes assessed in 2008 for the schools deferred maintenance is going to stay in place until this further $6 mil is paid off? I wonder if the school board would utilize something as irresponsible as an interest only loan in their personal financial planning? Why is ok to use this when it is my money? Can someone explain to me the differed maintenance. If I ran my home or my business under this principle I would be living outside and unemployed. Not budgeting for maintenance is fiscally negligent. Please don't cry about how the money is spent on the kids. Shorewood spends more money per pupil than any school district in the metro area, yet they have a 75K maintenance budget for four schools, 3 of which are closing in on 100 years old. I wish I had grown up with a rich dad who would bail me out of financial crisis after financial crisis. Since I did not have that luxury, I save for the day I need a new boiler and I pay cash.
Kelly O'Brien September 14, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Don Q. Excellent observations. You clearly put considerable thought into this. We at Shorewood Citizens for Responsible Government asked all of the questions you posed while the Shorewood Board of Education was considering this proposal. The members of the Board heard us but chose to ignore our input. In fact, they passed this without considering our current debt position. They also openly discussed what they refer to as a "Referendum Cycle". The next referendum is scheduled for 5-6 years from now because they need to retire some of the existing debt. The board knows that residents ignore their actions and they do virtually nothing to publicize their policies. You are welcome to join us at the annual meeting in two weeks where they will vote on the levy before they pass the budget and without an audit of last year's receipts and expenditures. I'm not making this up.
Joe Peterlin September 14, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Shorewood School District, Annual Meeting, Monday, September 24, 2012

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