Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Elanco cost cutting draws praise BY PATRICK BURNS, Correspondent
Rodney Jones has been a tightfisted, vocal watchdog who has rummaged through every meeting agenda since joining the Eastern Lancaster County school board 15 months ago.
So it was a bit unprecedented when Jones openly applauded the board and Elanco administrators last week.
Why the change in demeanor?
The board approved cuts of more than $900,000 and 10 percent off the Brecknock Elementary School renovation project.
Jones tendered specific praise for business manager Keith Ramsey and superintendent Robert Hollister.
"The board had given the administration (instructions) to push back, push back and Dr. Hollister and Mr. Ramsey were able to find some monies available to pay for this," said Jones, who was elected as board vice president in January.
The board last week approved PlanCon G, the final pre-construction phase that cements the Brecknock Elementary project at $8.2 million.
Architects Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates had initially projected the cost to be $9.1 million.
Jones cast the lone dissenting vote against PlanCon F, which advanced the project to the bidding stage.
The board last week awarded the final bids for the Brecknock project, cutting $902,270 off initial projections. The final cost totals include a savings of $725,967 in the bids for general construction, HVAC, plumbing, electrical and technology construction.
Initial proposals for the Brecknock renovation had projected a net cost to taxpayers of about $6 million -- funded by a 12-year bond issue -- and $3.1 million from Elanco's capital reserve fund.
But Ramsey submitted lowered costs for construction testing, eliminated $107,500 in finance charges and made significant cuts on interest costs.
"Since Elanco is paying for the project in cash, the district not only saves on the financing costs of $107,500 to issue the bonds, but also saves on the interest costs over the life of the bond issue in the total estimated amount of $615,000," Ramsey said Tuesday.
Previously, the plan would have added $12 in taxes on an individual owning a home assessed at the district average of $143,000. But because of the cost cutting, taxes for residents will not be increased, Ramsey said.
"I hope the citizens understand the magnitude of this," Jones said. "This would have been a burden put back on taxpayers in our district."
The projected 18-month construction project remains on schedule. It is slated to begin in the spring and conclude in August 2014.
The renovation will add 6,050 square feet to the 76,366-square-foot facility. The project will include four new classrooms, a mechanical room and two single-occupancy toilet rooms.
Also included are new upgrades throughout the building -- paint, flooring, ceiling tiles, a sound system in the multipurpose room, clocks and bell system, TV signal/distribution system, data/technology systems, fire alarm, and presentation equipment in classrooms.
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