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Schools hold off sending office plan to county

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
EAST SPENCER ó The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education will hold off taking its most recent central office proposal to county commissioners as financial details are ironed out.
However, the school board approved a pre-development agreement during a special meeting Tuesday that will allow the school system and a Charlotte developer to move forward with planning for a 62,000-square-foot facility in downtown Salisbury.
ěThis agreement is intended to help lay out the road map for everybody so we are all on the same page,î school board attorney Rod Malone said.
But the school board wonít request approval from the Rowan County Board of Commissioners until it receives a nod from the Local Government Commission and determines the viability of New Market Tax Credits that would knock $1.5 million off the building cost ó two hurdles school system officials expected to clear prior to Tuesdayís meeting.
ěWe came back today with the expectation that we would have information from the Local Government Commission, and we donít have that,î school board member Kay Wright Norman said. ěI would much rather be sure we have all the information and the public has all the accurate information before we move forward.î
Malone said officials with the Local Government Commission have asked to see a financial analysis, which would include a comparison of the cost of the proposed lease-purchase agreement and the traditional financing method done through the county.
After the tax credit and a $200,000 option-to-purchase fee, the project would come in at nearly $7 million. The lease to purchase agreement would include an interest rate of 6 percent and annual mortgage payment of more than $536,000. At the end of seven years, the district would be able to buy the facility for about $6 million.
ěI donít believe based on the conversation with the Local Government Commission that we have to show that it costs the same as or less than traditional financing,î Malone said. ěWe will have to show that itís very competitive and the cost to finance this way is not significantly more.î
Questions about New Market Tax Credits will also have to be answered.
ěItís not like other tax credits where if you qualify, you automatically receive it. Itís not that kind of tax credit,î Malone said.
Malone said developer Bryan Barwick has a ěsignificant amount of experienceî dealing with the tax credits.
ěWe are still optimistic in working with the developer that we will be able to put together a package that will hopefully appeal to the Local Government Commission,î Malone said.
Dr. Jim Emerson, school board chairman, said without clearing those hurdles he doesnít think the county board will give its stamp of approval.
ěI donít want to go before the county commissioners and be shot down,î he said.
If the county board accepts the pre-development agreement, Barwick will be able to hire an architect to begin designing the building.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Twitter: twitter.com/posteducation
Facebook: facebook.com/Sarah.SalisburyPost

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