McClave Engineering workers have been working on the design for Shelter Island School’s new heating and ventilation system since June, but it will fall to voters Tuesday, September 23 to decide how the project gets financed.
If they approve a bond not to exceed $1.6295 million as the Board of Education recommends, the project will be paid for in installments over several years.
If they reject the bond, the board will likely be forced to finance the project in a single year through a tax hike that could be expected to pierce the 2 percent state-imposed tax cap.
Since the school’s heating system broke down last October, it has fallen to the maintenance crew to manually keep the building heated in winter and cooled in summer, first at the building around the clock and later — thanks to new controls — making adjustments remotely via computer.
School board members have agreed that’s hardly an efficient way to function. Not only did it cost money in overtime pay, but the actual use of fuel oil was considerably greater than it would be with a properly functioning system.
The project has been delayed to give school board members time to evaluate the best, most cost-effective way to tackle the project. Once they determined that a plan developed by McClave would solve the problem, they authorized the engineering company to begin work on the actual design that must be submitted to the New York State Department of Education for approval. Because the state is backed up with applications from school districts, it’s estimated that it will take many months before that final okay is forthcoming.
Part of the new plan is to instal 98 solar panels, which will cut costs dramatically.
It may seem ironic to residents, but despite the system breakdown last October, the state won’t fast-track the application because the only time it considers such a move is if a building is totally unusable.
The bond money is meant to cover the cost of a new heating and ventilation system, replacement of a fuel tank and ancillary work, including demolition necessary to the project. McClave Engineering also plans some repointing of building masonry.
While the district is attending to the HVAC work, it’s also pushing ahead with a performance contract with Johnson Controls that has identified several modifications to the building that will result in energy savings.
Under a performance contract, the annual savings in energy is guaranteed to be greater than the amount it costs to complete the work. Daniel Haffel of Johnson Controls outlined the financing in June, explaining that while the district would be asked to allocate $75,503 a year to pay for the changes, income each year from energy savings will bring in more than $14,000 in revenue than what is being spent.
That income results from energy rebates of about $20,000, New York State aid of $7,533 and energy savings of $4,477 from operations and management costs. The Johnson Controls contract runs for 17 years and if the expected savings fail to materialize, the company is on the hook for the difference, not the district.
On Shelter Island, the work will include improvements in lighting; building winterization; energy management via computers to maximize savings; installation of window films that block the sun’s heat in the summer and protect from winter cold; plug load controls; and solar panels.
Both projects aim for completion by November 2015.
The bond vote takes place Tuesday, September 23, between noon and 9 p.m. in the school gymnasium.