City Council delays gym demolition, design funding
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jan 28, 2014 | 1125 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cleveland City Council delayed a decision on funding the demolition and architectural designs of the Cleveland High School gymnasium Monday.

The Council plans to discuss the issue at its next meeting when it will have more information about the cost of the project, and whether or not it can restructure current debt.

A resolution that would have allowed funding up to $500,000 for demolition and pay for architectural work on the project was discussed. It was delayed when Council members determined it would be best to wait until after more information about the debt structure of the city could be discussed.

Councilman At–Large George Poe planned to meet with the necessary people today to determine if the city could restructure the debt. If it can, this would allow the city to borrow the funds needed to construct the new gymnasium.

Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel said the Council could approve giving the money to the school system contingent on the city paying itself when the money is borrowed through bonds.

District 4 Councilman David May Jr. asked from where the money would come. He said in order to borrow money the government had to have a reoccurring revenue source to cover the bond payments.

“I cannot tell you that there is money available today without property tax restructuring,” Casteel said.

May said it would be better to have more specific design plans before making a decision.

Cleveland City Schools Director Martin Ringstaff said the school system also had an invoice for an architectural drawing for a new elementary school that also needed to be paid.

“We have an invoice for $37,000 on the elementary school, the preliminary that you saw a few months ago. We do not have a drawing of the gymnasium at this point, because we are still very early in the process,” Ringstaff said.

District 2 Councilman Bill Estes suggested the school system use money in its fund balance to pay for the gymnasium demolition and architectural drawings.

“A fund balance is for emergencies like this,” Estes said.

State law requires the school system to maintain a fund balance, money not earmarked for a certain expense, of 3 percent of the total budget. Cleveland City Schools’ total budget for this fiscal year is $40,510,445.

If the school system uses the funds, it does not have a revenue source from which to replenish it, according to Ringstaff.

Estes said this could be worked into future budget requests.

Ringstaff said it is “not that simple.”

District 5 .Councilman Dale Hughes said, “The gymnasium is a must that we have to have — and sooner than later.”

He said recent games are topping out at more than 2,000 spectators.

“My feeling is we need a multipurpose building, a ‘gymatorium’ I believe you called it… with at least 2,200 seats,” Hughes said.

“We need a first-class facility,” Banks said.

Poe said he agreed a multipurpose facility is needed.

During a presentation to the school board of drafts for two options on replacing the gym, estimates were given of $9 million and $12 million.

Cleveland Board of Education member Dawn Robinson said the costs would most likely come down when the board fine tunes what is needed for the facility.

She also mentioned the potential of giving up classroom space in the facility to expand the gym space.

Ringstaff agreed changes would be made to the possibilities presented.

“Did they give you a number that they needed up front?” May asked.

“Not yet,” Ringstaff said.

Robinson said the architect’s fee would be 6 percent of the cost of the project.

The future gymnasium would be located at the site of the current Raider Dome.

Waiting on revenue from a bond issue by the county government was also discussed.

State law requires that one-third of any funding borrowed by the county government for county schools go to the city school system. The county has passed a resolution to provide funding for Lake Forest Middle School, if available, in 2016.

Ringstaff said the school system needs the gymnasium sooner than 2016.