The board tabled the matter at its regular June meeting, hoping to get more information before deciding the project’s fate.
Some claimed the project was not approved by the board to begin with, that it was packaged by former Supt. Michael Nassif without their knowledge.
It’s possible some members didn’t know or don’t remember approving the addition, but approve the board did.
At its August 2010 meeting, the board accepted the Buildings, Lands & Sites Committee recommendation to lease/purchase a portable office building.
Asst. Supt. James Olivier explained that the building would allow the department to be in close proximity of their freezer and dry storage inventory located near the new warehouse and would also provide office space to streamline the personnel and insurance departments.
The project was endorsed without objection, bids were requested in November and December and were received in January 2011.
The lease, about $3,500 a month, is being paid by the Child Nutrition Department and the building is ready for occupancy.
But the Fire Marshal won’t inspect it until the concrete is poured for the handicapped parking area and access ramps.
Child Nutrition by law cannot spend its funds for construction. The General Fund would have to provide the $3,500 for the concrete work.
And there lies the rub.
With the system facing an enormous General Fund deficit some members object to that allocation as well as continuing to lease the building and want to reverse course.
But that reversal carries a large expense of its own.
Board member Ronald Carrier led the resistance to approving the $3,500 allocation at the June meeting.
His concern is the money diverted from Child Nutrition to reimburse the General Fund for the building will eventually impact the cost of school lunch for those students who pay full price.
Others said while lunch prices may change over the long haul, any increases will in all likelihood be a result of diminishing state funds (MFP) rather than the lease expense.
If the board breaks the lease, the expense involve is fully a General Fund obligation. According to an estimate by ModSpace of Scott, which provided the building, the cost to return the unit would be $78,000.
Additionally, the board would be charged $800 monthly storage cost until the building is sold to another customer, with an estimated storage time of 12 to 24 months, or $9,600 to $19,200.
To date, the start-up costs total about $79,000.
The lease balance over the remaining contract life, should the board vote to do the concrete work and keep the building, is $178,000. Total cost of the building, including interest, over five years is $209.448.
Related but not part of the discussion was acceptance of Child Nutrition’s revised budget for the current fiscal year.
The operating deficit was amended to $299,550 from the original budget projection of $99,515, reducing the program’s fund balance on June 30 to $1.35 million from the $1.65 million of one year earlier.
Projected revenue fell by $400,000, with the big hit being a $300,000 drop, to $500,000 in state MFP reimbursement. THere was a $50,000 shortfall in local reimbursement for meals.
On the expense side, substitute employee costs are $80,000 higher than first projected, retirement contributions are $25,000 greater and worker’s comp costs are $55,000 over the initial forecast.