By Lucas Vance firstname.lastname@example.org
March 20, 2014
WINNSBORO — Fairfield County’s new charter school, Midlands STEM Institute, has withdrawn its request for bond financing from the county.
Last month, MSI representatives and attorney Stephen Cox met with the presentation committee to be placed on the agenda for the bond’s approval from the full council.
The committee decided to table the request despite county attorney Jack James acknowledging the action would be a mere legal technicality with no financial responsibility to the county.
“After looking at the IRS code, my review is that the county will not be liable for these bonds if they default. Even though it would be a resolution passed by county council, it would not be a debt,” James said during the Feb. 26 committee meeting.
Law requires the approval be given by the geographic unit and since the school campus lies outside town limits in Greenbrier, that jurisdiction falls in the county’s lap.
Although it is not customary, Cox acknowledged that MSI could receive bond approval from the state level either from the Attorney General or Gov. Nikki Haley.
The $3.4 million bond will now be pursued at the state level, according to interim County Administrator Milton Pope.
“The charter school will be moving forward at state hearing and has withdrawn their request from the county,” Pope informed council during the March 10 regular meeting.
South Carolina has 23 charter schools statewide and 13 schools have been approved for the Fall of 2014. MSI plans to open Aug. 18.
In other business, council unanimously approved the naming of Industrial Park Road, which will now be known as Commerce Parkway.
Pope announced that the county has procured Goodwyn Mill Cawood to investigate the collapse of a portion of the Drawdy Park retaining wall. The engineering firm will also expand its scope to other projects built by S2 and the Dennis Corporation.
The Dutchman’s Creek pedestrian bridge is one project that will be added to the investigative inventory.
“There were some maintenance issues that were brought to our attention at Dutchman Cree,” Pope noted. “Because of the season and emergent situation, we’ll procure a scope of services to look at that immediately.”
After each council member provided a list of recreational projects, county staff recommended hiring a firm to come up with a cost that includes all of the maintenance and staffing.
Following solicitation in January and subsequent evaluation, Pope recommended council procure the services of Kenneth Simmons and Associates.
“These would be the consultants that work with us looking at that master list and then coming up with cost estimates to bring back to the council,” he noted.
Pope advised council that the consulting fee would come out of the $3.5 million recreation budget.
County administration is still waiting for an answer on whether or not the county can use the Hon Building as a temporary relocation site for courthouse offices, while the courthouse is being renovated.
Pope is hopeful the county will be granted use of the building, since it already houses EMS there.
“From the committee’s standpoint that (Hon building) is the best possible option and will save the county a lot of money in the relocation process,” he said.
The engineer’s projected cost for the remodeling of the Fairfield County Courthouse is $1,364,225 and will be done by Davis & Floyd.