Beacon Academy asks for cost cutting help

Corcoran looks into what is doable

Beacon Academy representatives came before the Corcoran City Council with hopes that the council could help them make a decision.
“They’re trying to determine whether they can afford this project in Corcoran or not,” said City Administrator Brad Martens.
Beacon Academy is a public charter school that is outgrowing its current location at 9060 Zanzibar Lane North in Maple Grove, where it is leasing lower level space at the Church of the Open Door. The school has an enrollment of 415 students in Kindergarten through eighth grade and plans to add a class in each grade over the next five years.
In December the academy asked the city council for feedback on a concept plan for a 78,000 square foot school that would accommodate 700 to 750 students. The school would sit on 15.55 acres of a 43.5-acre site north of County Road 10 and east of Maple Hill Road. The property on the south side of County Road 10 is the Shamrock Golf Course.
Since December, Corcoran city staffers have worked with the Beacon Academy team to discuss costs related to the project. Beacon Academy has asked the city for help in reducing initial costs. For example, could the city delay design work for turn lanes on County Road 10 that would cost $25,000? Could Corcoran delay or absorb $20,000 in planning and engineering review fees?
Beacon Academy also is having difficulty with overall project costs. The academy is requesting reduction of the estimated $250,000 cost of the County Road 10 turn lanes, because it would serve other properties in the future. Another problem is an estimated $130,000 cost for piping storm water to an off-site location in addition to a storm water pond. Other costly issues are utility trunk and connection fees, park dedication and trail costs and giving 2.2 acres to Corcoran for use as a booster station.
Jaclyn May, of Cushman & Wakefield, is a member of the team working on putting together the Beacon Academy project. She said the team is looking at how to lower costs and increase the academy’s ability to raise funds. “$600,000 would make a huge impact,” she said.
Paul Donovan, of Cushman & Wakefield, said the academy is $1.1 million over budget. The project team is looking at all avenues to reduce costs. A big factor would be bond interest rates this spring. A favorable interest rate would make a sizable dent in the fund gap.
Councilors expressed willingness to consider some but not all of the requests.
Mayor Ken Guenthner was reluctant to modify the drainage plan. He also did not want to raise city property taxes because property owners already are paying taxes for Rockford Schools.
Councilor Mike Keefe said he would like to see the project happen but how much in the way of costs to the city would be too much? He would rather have the academy pay park dedication fees.
Councilor Ron Thomas said he was willing to have Corcoran invest $175,000 in Tax Increment Financing money for the turn lanes, but this would make the money unavailable for downtown redevelopment.
He added that Beacon Academy “says $600,000 would be nice. We don’t have the funds to do that.”
Councilor Pat Hank said, “I am having a tough time with this,” noting that Corcoran residents of the Rockford School District already are paying taxes for Rockford Schools. He did not see how $600,000 would improve Corcoran’s tax base.
The council directed Martens to develop a proposal for what Corcoran might be prepared to do and e-mail it to city councilors. Each councilor would respond directly to Martens about the proposal. Guenthner instructed councilors to not e-mail each other because this could be construed as an illegal secret city council meeting.

OTHER COUNCIL BUSINESS
The council approved the final plat for a subdivision at 22900 Strehler Road that would consist of four residential lots on 80 acres. The applicant was CCS Partnership LLP.
The council also directed Martens to proceed with Corcoran’s 2016 – 2017 Capital Improvement Plan and also research the broader financial picture pertaining to funding of capital improvements.
Martens showed the council an index in which the condition of city equipment is taken into consideration. When a piece of equipment reaches a certain age, the cost to the city would be more to maintain the equipment than to replace it.
The 2016 – 2017 Capital Improvement Plan calls for spending $287,500 for a tandem axle dump truck, snow blower for a tractor, generator and Harley rake attachment for Public Works. The CIP for the Police Department earmarks $129,000 for three squad cars, support and protection equipment and a safe for the evidence room. Another $30,000 is earmarked for equipment to make video recordings of City Council meetings.
Although a piece of equipment is mentioned in the CIP, this does not commit the city to purchase the equipment. The council must approve each purchase.

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]