Not everyone agrees the proposal Mark Lentz of Lentz Engineering Associates has made to the Board of Education should be approved.
Ben Huber regular addressed the board Monday with recommendations and concerns on the proposal that could cost the district between $15 million and 16 million for HVAC system upgrades and a wind turbine.
Earlier this year the board hired Lentz Engineering to do a study of the schools concerning heating and ventilation. His firm said HVAC system repairs at Dellwood Early Learning Center, Longfellow Elementary School, and the Middle School are the primary factor driving the project. Repairs needed are extensive and will require the facilities to be shut down for one or two summers while the work is progressing. Some of the systems are 40-50 years old.
Lentz suggested a referendum would not be needed for the proposed project. He proposed the municipal lease maybe a better vehicle for the wind power systems. Lentz said General Electric has indicated they would be willing to fund the project for similar interest rates.
Lentz proposed a wind turbine be installed on property already owned by the school district west of the city on Knitt Road.
Huber took issue with the assumption in Lentz energy study of a 15 percent energy cost inflation each year.
Huber also said the total cost of the proposed upgrade did not include the interest cost.
Huber questioned the firm’s expertise with wind power and whether $6 million proposal for the windmill would have a 14-year payback.
Huber said he has asked Lentz some seemingly straightforward questions, which Lentz was not able to answer. A representative of Lentz Associates was not at the meeting and the board took no action on the matter.
Huber suggested the board bid out a heating contract to at least five contractors to determine whether any of the energy numbers Lentz presented make sense and that the board pursue a wind power study independently of Lentz Associates. He also suggested the board look into a corn burner for Dellwood school.
An action item on the agenda from the administration that the board hire a firm to confirm the information in the Lentz Engineering had been removed prior to the meeting.
By Grace Kirchner, Leader correspondent
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