By Naomi Hatch
Librarian Cathie McDowell represented the Snowflake Academy Foundation (SAF) at the July 23 Snowflake Town Council meeting, making a request for additional funds for renovations. The request drew substantial discussion, but in the end the council agreed to fund a portion of the project’s shortfall.
McDowell explained that they had submitted a request for renovations at the academy building that include a fire sprinkler system, a handicap accessible ramp at the east entrance, renovations to the exterior and interior stairs, and rain gutters.
She said that the first round of bids came back extremely high, so the bid was refined and reposted, but the bids received were still higher than the available funds.
Navajo County is committing $34,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the ramp and exterior stairway project, and the bid came in at $68,919.
CDBG funding approved by the Snowflake Council for the fire sprinkler and interior stair renovations came in at $145,592. McDowell noted that this is after administrations costs are factored out. The bid came in at $170,771.
The combined overage is $59,398.
“We are very committed to the project,” said McDowell, who then asked if the town would commit to the project by sharing the excess cost of completing this phase of renovation with Navajo County, with each paying approximately $30,000. Navajo County officials have been asked to consider this. McDowell said that the foundation has voted to commit to the projects.
McDowell said that over the past eight years they have raised approximately $100,000, and noted that the foundation planned to hold several fundraisers during Pioneer Days. The foundation has also undertaken a fundraising campaign marking the 100th anniversary of the building, which will be on Thanksgiving Day.
“My personal feeling is that the people that are near and dear to the academy building will donate,” said McDowell.
“I think it should be near and dear to all of us,” said Mayor Kelly Willis. He then asked what the time frame is and if they could rebid the project.
McDowell explained that they must have a signed contract by Aug. 13 or they will lose the CDBG funding.
Councilwoman Bev Kay asked if the project could be revamped.
McDowell explained that there is a lengthy, difficult approval process and the project cannot be changed after it is approved.
Town Manager Paul Watson said that when he and McDowell first discussed this he absolutely supported the academy building stating, “I give them all the kudos in the world for what they’ve been able to do with the resources they have.” His concern was that the council was set to approve the final budget at this meeting, and to approve $30,000 out of the contingency fund of the budget that was just adopted concerned him because at this point they didn’t know what money would come into that fund. “My advice to her was move quickly to see if the county can share that with us,” said Watson.
Kay expressed concern and asked for clarification regarding a rumor that the academy building was taking funds from road improvements.
Watson, Mayor Willis and McDowell explained that CDBG funds have very specific guidelines and can be used only for certain projects. It is difficult to have a project qualify.
The mayor suggested the council approve $15,000 minus what the foundation earns during the Pioneer Days celebration.
“My concern is how much money are we going to put in this in the future. We’re taking funds from the city and this seems to be continuous,” said Kay.
McDowell reminded the council that the academy building is owned by the town of Snowflake.
Councilman Lynn Johnson said that he has been studying the budget of other communities and none of them make money from the pool, the golf course or the library, but they bring in a higher return because they have positions hired to do events.
“I feel strongly it would help the town if we come up with that ($15,000). I understand what Beverlee is saying, there’s so many needs the town has… I agree with what Lynn said,” said Mayor Willis
“If there is nothing else I’ll make a motion and see if I get a second out of it,” said the mayor. He moved made to commit $15,000 to the academy building minus donations from Pioneer Days events. Councilman Tom Poscharsky seconded the motion.
After a brief discussion the motion was amended to state that the town is willing to split the cost up to $30,000 with other entities minus what is received in donations over the celebration. Poscharsky seconded the motion to amend and the motion passed 6-1 with Kay opposing it.
By Naomi Hatch