Audit reveals RSU 40 needs $2.2 million in improvementsApplying for bonds
Union — Regional School Unit 40 Board of Directors has given approval for the district to apply for a bond to cover $2.2 million in facility improvements.
The board will take a final vote at its next meeting, Thursday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. at Union Elementary School.
The bond — a Qualified Zone Academy Bond — is issued by the state or local governments to renovate and improve eligible public schools. The federal government subsidizes the bonds by providing tax credits to the holder of the QZABs.
"The credits are approximately equal to the interest that states and communities would pay the holder of taxable bonds," said Karla Miller, district business manager in a correspondence Oct. 28.
Therefore, issuers are generally responsible for repayment of just the principal. "That is a tax credit program, not a grant program," said Miller.
Each state is allotted an amount of money based on state percentages of the national population of individuals with incomes below the poverty line. RSU 40 would qualify for the program due to the number of students who are part of the school's free or reduced-lunch program.
RSU 40 sent out a Request for Qualifications for Energy Management Services in January, received six responses and interviewed four companies. Of those companies, Siemens Industry was chosen for the task of auditing all seven buildings owned by RSU 40.
The energy-saving recommendations by Siemens Industry — totaling $2,215,794 — include lighting retrofit, roof ventilation/replacement, boiler replacement, walk-in refrigeration/freezer control, heating pump replacement/repair, air conditioning, water heater replacement, and EMS upgrades, among other things.
"Lighting and occupancy sensors top the list for all the schools," said Miller. "However, we also have the Warren Community School roof in the project for approximately $200,000," she added.
QZABs may be used for rehabilitation or repair of school buildings, purchasing equipment, developing course materials, and/or training teachers and other school personnel, but not for new construction.
"This is a great opportunity to have some capital improvements completed for our district," said Miller.
According to Miller, Siemens was selected because of the work it has done with other schools in Maine. "Their references were excellent, with most of the school projects coming in ahead of time and with more savings than expected," said Miller.
Miller said the available proceeds — in their entirety — must be spent within three years from the date of issuance.
"We are hoping for a vote to move forward," said Miller.
RSU 40 includes schools in the towns of in Union, Warren, Washington, Waldoboro, Friendship.
Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
594-4401 ext. 125
Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.
Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.
Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.
Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 13.
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