Badger School further addresses boiler issue

Currently, the Badger School has a boiler dated 1950 and one dated June of 1999. The boiler dated from 1950 has arrived to a point where it has not become efficient to run at all, said Badger School Buildings and Grounds Manager, Jarod Magnusson— an issue he referred to as “many years in the making.” This leaves the district without an efficient backup boiler to the 1999 one.

“I think it (this 1950 boiler) is going to be a problem,” Magnusson said. “… It’s something that doesn’t really shock me after all these years.”

After showing some piping taken out from the 1950 boiler— damaged due to buildup, corrosion, and rust— Badger Superintendent Kevin Ricke said this about the boiler situation, “We probably can’t kick the can down the road anymore on our boiler-heating plan.”

For this reason, Ricke said he listed the boiler/heating system on a slide presented during the board’s Truth in Taxation public hearing prior to the board’s regular business at its December 9 meeting.

Ricke said the board would be looking at more than one million dollars for this project— boiler replacement. Estimates the district has received range from $1.2 to 1.6 million. Given the dollar amount, the district would have to seek out quotes or bids. To avoid “tying up” its Long Term Facilities Maintenance (LTFM) dollars, the district would need to turn to voters to approve funding for this project.

In November 2011, voters approved a $2,000 per pupil operating levy, one that generates $231,483.26 in revenue for taxes payable 2020/fiscal year 2021. This voter-approved operating levy expires in taxes payable 2021/fiscal year 2022.

Besides the operating levy, the voters approved a capital projects levy in November 2010 for $40,937 annually or a 4.978 percent net tax capacity rate. This capital projects levy for this year in taxes payable 2020/fiscal year 2021 totals $51,572.95, also at which time this levy expires.

“This could be a capital project, the boiler,” Ricke said. “… Then the question goes, if you’re going to the voters, are you going to look at just the boilers? Are there other needs that you’d address at the same time.”

If it does get the funding, when would this project take place? The reality of this situation, Ricke said, is that if the district moves forward with full boiler-heating system replacement, he doesn’t know if the district could get someone in the building to install it by summer 2020, instead pointing to summer 2021 as an option.

Board members expressed their thoughts on this issue and potential project.

“I think it’s going to be kind of egg in our face if we don’t do something here pretty soon,” board member Jim Christianson said.

“Something has to happen,” board member Cari Dostal said.

Christianson added, “This has been dragging on for a long time.”

Board member Carol Rhen later said, “I think we probably should get started in whatever fashion we need to do to get started, just take those first steps.”

As Ricke explained, the board has to get a project or construction manager to help provide as accurate of numbers or estimates as possible. Then, once the district would find out it has secured funding, it would send out for formal bids for a project with a specific start date. He added that if the board were to go in front of voters for funding for this project, it would need to provide them with solid numbers.

Board member Jeramy Swenson questioned if the district would receive additional dollars from voters.

“I’m assuming we’re not going to be getting anymore money than we already are getting from the voters,” Swenson said. “We could possibly get the same that we’re getting, but I wouldn’t imagine that they’re going to give any more.”

Rhen responded, “It’s worth asking… The community knows that the boiler has been there since the 50’s or they would know if we told them.”

Moving forward, Ricke explained how the district needs to review boiler/heating and fuel source options, what this work will include, and what type of funding the district is going to use to address this need.

“We need to be transparent to our voters,” board member Cari Dostal said. “We need to make sure that they’re aware of the seriousness of this. We need to get the ball rolling.”

To see the complete Badger School Board story, read the December 11 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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