NEWPORT CITY – The North Country Union High School Business and Operations Committee decided Tuesday night not to face the issue regarding payments on the new track until after voters decide on the 2012-2013 budge. The budget comes up for a vote on Town Meeting Day next month.
Board Member Richard Cartee of Newport City said he did not want to get into a great discussion about the issue until voters approve the budget, something he said board members worked hard on.
“We have a habit sometimes of having too many things on our plate. Let’s get the questions and answers to the budget taken care of,” Cartee explained Wednesday.
“Let’s concentrate on making sure we present the budget to the voters so they can make an honest and knowledgeable decision to either approve or disapprove of it.”
Committee Chair Peter Moskovites of Charleston said he would like to have time to look at the track expense sheet. Committee members at their March meeting could ask questions about replenishing the school coffers to cover the money already spent on the track, Moskovites said.
The grand total for the track was $190,808. The money was supposed to come from fundraisers and donations, not taxpayers. However, project officials raised only about $88,000, a very different amount from what was needed to complete the project. Completion of the track was paid for with funds obtained by the sale of school buses, which raised some eyebrows.
“They did exactly what we told them not to do,” said Cartee. “That upset me. If we are the board of directors, then when we make a decision and we make a vote, there should be no if, ands or buts about it.”
Glen Hankinson, business director for the North Country Supervisory Union, tells disagrees. He said the board said to finish the track and that included paying the bills.
“You can’t ask other people to do things for you and say you’re not going to pay them for it,” said Hankinson. “They agreed to finish the track at whatever that cost was. They knew it was going to be around $188,000. Their direction was to go head and finish the track so it will be ready for track season this spring.”
The board met and understood what was being asked of them, Hankinson said.
Operations Coordinator Brent Hilliard told committee members that North Country Track Coach Gary Johnson was clerk of the works, which appeared to be a surprise to some committee members. Hilliard said Johnson did all the preliminary work and initial visitation with the companies involved. Hankinson said that Johnson was not the clerk of the works, but did say Johnson was the person who oversaw the fundraising efforts and construction of the track.
“I suppose in the general sense that’s true,” said Hankinson, when told that Hilliard identified Johnson as the clerk of the works. “He was never hired to be the clerk of the works of the track. At least I am not aware of any contract that says he’s been hired as the clerk of the works.”
However. the expense sheet states the clerk of the works received $2,293.