While addressing how to educate students during the coronavirus has brought unexpected changes to the Greene County School System in the past six months, it is still facing older issues such as aging HVAC systems in its facilities.
The first step proposed in addressing the replacement of the HVAC units will be considered soon by the Greene County Commission in the form of approving a multi-million-dollar contract with a company to implement measures for energy savings to help pay for the new heating and cooling equipment.
A contract between the school system and Schneider Electric Buildings Americas, Inc. was given approval by the Commission’s Budget and Finance Committee on Thursday. It will now be considered by the full commission.
The contract is for $8.9 million in measures to help improve energy efficiency within school system facilities and address the HVAC issues. Currently, 44% of units within the system have been in service for longer than 20 years, which is the standard life expectancy of the HVAC units. In two years, 85% will have reached the 20-year mark. More than 500 units have passed the 20-year mark already or are approaching it.
Steve Tipton, energy specialist for the school system, explained that the contract with Schneider Electric calls for phases of work over multiple years.
The first phase will include implementation of LED lighting at all the schools, water conservation measures and some load management, Tipton explained. Energy cost savings from these measures will be used to help cover the cost of the replacement of the HVAC units, he added.
The contract projects energy savings totaling $6.1 million over a 20-year period. Included in the contract is a clause that if the actual savings for a year is less than the projected guaranteed savings, Schneider will pay the difference to the school system.
Also included in the initial phase of the work is replacement of HVAC units at Chuckey-Doak High School and Mosheim Middle School, now West Greene Middle School. These units take up significant time and resources of the school’s system maintenance department to keep operational, Tipton explained.
Committee members asked what funds would be used to pay for the work called for in the contract. An education debt service bond could be used for the project, which would most likely result in an annual payment of between $300,000 and $450,000 annually, explained County Budget Director Danny Lowery.
In other school related action, the committee gave its approval to a resolution for the Greene County Schools to use up to $670,000 from its unassigned fund balance for COVID-19-related expenditures.
County School Director David McLain explained that the funds would be used to provide the system flexibility to add any teachers and teacher aides that may be needed to enable the school system to have students properly social distanced in a classroom in the future.
The committee also approved resolutions for replacement of equipment at the Greene County Courthouse and for items for the Greeneville-Greene County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Greene County Animal Control, the Greene County Election Commission and the Greene County Highway Department. All of the resolutions will now be considered by the full County Commission.
An X-Ray inspection system at the courthouse is no longer operable and no one has been found to adequately repair the equipment, Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison explained. The equipment was installed new in 2008. The resolution requests an expenditure of up to $35,581 to replace the system, which will be taken from the county’s capital projects fund.
Replacement of machinery is also the focus of the resolution for the Emergency Management Agency. The resolution requests the use of up to $36,450 from the capital projects fund for the purchase of a replacement vehicle for the office. Morrison said the appropriation amount comes from the state bid for the vehicle. He explained that the office’s 2010 Chevrolet Suburban has electrical issues, which have made the vehicle a fire hazard.
Another resolution involves the beginning of the second phase of equipping emergency personnel and other county offices with digital radio equipment to be able to connect to the Tennessee Advanced Communications network. The resolution asks for $35,815 to purchase equipment to allow Animal Control radio equipment to connect to the network.
The Election Commission resolution calls for an appropriation of $28,340 to provide salary and benefit funds to allow a new associate to cross train with the employee who is leaving following the November election.
One resolution does not involve an expenditure, but a reimbursement of funds. The commission is asked to consider a request from the Greene County Highway Department to seek reimbursement of $72,227 for stream bank stabilization efforts from the federal Emergency Watershed Program. The work by the Highway Department came as a result of the floods in the spring of 2019.