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KCSD already earned $1.4 million from penny sales tax

Also, referendum construction putting $12 million back into local economy

Posted: August 7, 2017 5:55 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2017 1:00 a.m.

In just four months, the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) earned nearly $1.4 million in revenue from a penny sales tax voters approved by referendum in November. KCSD Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson reported the news during the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees’ Aug. 1 meeting.

Wilson said the almost $1.4 million is 57 percent more than the just under $869,000 the district originally projected it would earn through June 30 since the additional tax went into effect March 1. The additional sales tax is being used to offset any millage increase that would have been needed to repay a $129 million bond for a list of construction projects also approved by referendum in November. 

In addition, Wilson said that thanks to a bond anticipation note trustees approved in January, the district will actually get to earn an extra year of tax revenue before having to begin repayments on the actual bond.

At the rate at which the district is earning additional penny tax funds, Wilson said the amount of revenue the district will earn during the current fiscal year, 2018, should be what it projected to earn during Fiscal Year 2025.

“Also, keep in mind, I’m basing the projection next year on the first four months of what we collected, but remember, our highest months for sales are November and December, so when you add those in, the picture looks even brighter, “Wilson said. “(This) gives us many, many, many favorable options for the future for, possibly, paying off the bonds early, retiring additional debt and any number of other positive things.”

 

No sewer for WES

Wilson’s announcement came at the end of a construction update from KCSD Director of Operations Billy Smith and Eddie Rodelsperger, of Pike-McFarland-Hill Consultants, which included news that the new Wateree Elementary School will not be hooked up to a sewer line.

“As hard as we tried to get someone to bring us sewer from U.S. 1 down Smith Road and over, we haven’t been able to get that done, so we will have to put in a septic system and it’s on the very back portion. They’ve already started grubbing and clearing back there,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Smith did report the fence around the ball fields has been removed and that the district is working to obtain asbestos mitigation permits to tear the old building down. A retention pond is also being constructed on Reclamation Road.

Smith said efforts to move utilities have been completed at Lugoff Elementary School, and that contractors would be “moving dirt” there very soon. He also said contractors are finishing up installing an alarm system and renovating the 500 wing at North Central High School.

In addition, Smith said roof work at Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EHS) is “ready to go.” He also said a drain had been installed in the L-EHS courtyard and hallway windows resealed as a temporary measure. He said a permanent fix would be installed during a second phase of work starting in December.

Smith also noted that top soil has been removed and that a foundation should be poured soon for the new Camden Elementary School building on Laurens Street. He said the new roof at Mt. Pisgah Elementary School is finished, using only $300,000 of the $1 million allocated to renovate the school. Also, a building pad for an expansion at North Central Middle School has been installed.

 

$12 million reinvestment

All of the referendum-approved work is being performed under “construction management at risk” contracts. Tuesday, KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said a side benefit of this is that the district has ended up with more local contractors than it might otherwise.

Rodelsberger agreed.

“One of the goals you all wanted to accomplish was to make sure we kept as much of this money in Kershaw County as we could possibly keep,” he said. “At this point in time, we’ve got over 20 local subcontractors and vendors involved in this. We’ve got people doing everything from site work, glass work, masonry work, supply concrete, security systems, signs, and it goes on and on. Of these people, to date, we’ve got right at $12 million invested back into this community.”

Rodelsberger said that does not even count the money coming into the county through lodging, fuel purchases and miscellaneous purchases.

“This is just the beginning. We certainly don’t intend to stop here; we intend to keep going as more projects are rolled out and do everything we can to involve more people in this building project,” he said.

Rodelsberger also said proposals for further work not only at Mt. Pisgah, but Bethune and Baron DeKalb elementary schools were expected to be delivered Wednesday.

 

Other business

• Blackmon provided a draft of a letter to eventually be sent to district employees detailing the board’s response to a recent employee survey. Trustee Todd McDonald suggested language be included saying not only that the board will review its policies concerning political issues, but actually provide training to, ultimately, keep from there being any perception of attempts to persuade employees how to vote at the polls. In addition, some board members want the letter to address some concerns regarding the possible inconsistency of enforcing dress code and cell phone usage policies at the high school level. Morgan said he would bring changes to the board at its next meeting, at which time Chairman Ron Blackmon indicated he would like to come up with a final draft.

• Trustees voted unanimously -- with Trustees Dr. James P. Smith absent -- to take $25,000 from the district’s fund balance and put it toward paying half of a school year’s worth of a Camden-based school resource officer’s (SRO) salary. This is in addition to more than $60,000 already set aside for the coming school year for another SRO.

• Following an executive session, trustees voted unanimously to approve the administration’s recommendation regarding undisclosed employment matters.

• Morgan reported that, as of Aug. 1, registration placed enrollment at 92 percent of projections, leading him to believe final numbers will exceed projections.

• Trustees also unanimously voted to add AIFS Foundation/Academic Year in America to its list of approved foreign exchange organizations.

Also during the Aug. 1 meeting, Blackmon and Trustee Kim DuRant noted the passing of Smith’s father, the late James A. “Jim” Smith, who represented District 9 on the board for 12 years starting in 2000. Blackmon, who was elected to the District 9 seat after Jim Smith decided not to run again, said there were no words suitable enough to make things better for his family.

“But we do think a lot of your family,” Blackmon told Billy Smith, “Mr. Smith did a lot for our schools and our county. He was a good friend and a good neighbor.”

DuRant said she lost not only a mentor, but a close friend.

“Jim may not be on this earth any longer, but he has certainly left a legacy for all of Kershaw County. He is already missed,” she said. “He certainly left his mark.”


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