County to look at budget impact of auxiliary gym at CCHS

By Allen Worrell

March 25, 2014

A motion for the Carroll County Board of Supervisors to acquire funding for an auxiliary gym at Carroll County High School died March 10, but another motion to see how such a project would impact the county budget passed unanimously.

Supervisor Bob Martin has made motions about an auxiliary gym at CCHS before. His motion to do a feasibility study for an auxiliary gym was defeated by a 4-2 vote at the board’s Nov. 2013 meeting. He again expressed concerns about having students being exposed to the elements and the public when transferring from the main building of the high school to the fieldhouse, which houses the ninth-grade wing of the school.

“The concern is that six times per day at Carroll County High School…300 to 400 kids are wide open going from the fieldhouse to the main building or from the main building to the fieldhouse,” Martin said. “Carroll County has nine schools, and this is more kids out in the open than do six schools out of the nine have kids. It’s been a concern of mine for a long time. I move that the Carroll County Administrator begin negotiations with the Rural Development Agency to acquire long-term funding for the construction of an auxiliary gym and complex adjacent to CCHS with the construction to begin as soon as legalities are met.”

Chairman David Hutchins asked Martin if that was the same motion he made at an earlier meeting. Martin replied that it was, “but this one sounded better.”

“I am telling you from a safety standpoint it is not okay. They need to be in an enclosed hallway-type situation where they are not wide open to the main roads and hundreds of acres of land with clear shots in all of them,” Martin said. “That is my concern and that is my motion.”

Hutchins said he believed that was the same motion Martin made previously, however, which was defeated. The board’s procedures do not allow a defeated motion to be revisited.

“But if the board wishes to entertain it, they certainly can,” Hutchins said.

Supervisor Joshua Hendrick asked if Martin’s first motion included funding.

“The mistake I made, I guess, is that I should have specified a shorter time frame than 1,000 years. This thing has drug on and on and on, and I am sorry,” Martin said. “I see a need, and if I step on any toes I am sorry for that. I am not sorry for bringing it up. It is a legitimate need.”

Hutchins said he would accept Martin’s motion before asking for a second. Hendrick said he realized the need, but thought it was too early to outright say, ‘Yes, this is what we are going to do.’ A recent proposal from the Carroll County School Board for an auxiliary gym came in at $3.6 million.

Hendrick wanted to know where Carroll County compared to other surrounding localities in terms of debt. Carroll County Administrator Gary Larrowe said the county recently incurred $5.9 million in debt with the replacement of the HVAC system at the high school as part of a project that also included a new STEM lab and installation of a natural gas line at CCHS. That brings Carroll County’s per-capita debt up to $1,803, which supervisor Sam Dickson said is the second-highest of Carroll’s surrounding localities (which rank in the following order from highest to lowest: Patrick, Carroll, Wythe, Grayson, the City of Galax, Floyd, and Pulaski).

Hendrick wanted to know what the budget impact would be of another loan. Supervisor Phil McCraw, who serves on the county’s budget committee, said it would probably be better to wait until the current budget cycle is over.

“I would like to make an amendment to Bob’s motion that rather than seeking and securing funding, to check the funding options to be included to the budget cycle as the next step,” Hendrick said. “That way we could get an accurate picture of what it looks like.”

Martin said he just wanted an answer, yes or no, if the project could go forward. He wanted some idea of a timeframe. Hutchins then asked for a second to Martin’s motion. A second never came, killing the motion.

At that point, Hendrick made a motion of his own to have Larrowe check funding rates on the school board’s proposed $3.6 million project and include it in the current budget cycle to see how it would impact the budget.

“That way you can look at the numbers,” Hendrick said. “I don’t think anybody is going to argue it’s a need, it’s just whether it’s a need we can pay for.”

Martin seconded Hendrick’s motion. Hutchins said he was opposed to tying the project to the budget cycle, although he wasn’t “necessarily opposed to supporting it.” Hendrick then amended his motion to check funding rates to see budget implications, but not tying it to the current budget cycle. Martin seconded the motion, which then passed unanimously.

Allen Worrell can be reached by calling (276) 728-7311 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN