Yesterday the Learning Community voted 13-4 to move forward with their lease agreement to build a 20,000 sqft early childhood center on 24th and Franklin. This facility will cost roughly $4 million to build with the Learning Community kicking in $400,000. With rent/utilities/snow removal/lawn care, the additional price tag to the taxpayer will be around $522,000 annually to run the facility for at least ten years. There is also options to continue the lease after ten years. This price tag does not include staffing.
One comment last night by a Learning Community member, Blaine McCulloh, sent Political Insiders Report research team into overdrive researching documents into the wee hours of the night. McCulloh wanted to make sure that the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) could accommodate a 40,000 sqft facility. Why would you need HVAC to be built for a 40,000 sqft facility when the proposed building is only 20,000 sqft you ask? The devil is always in the details.
After reviewing the RFP (request for proposal), the Learning Community wants to initially build a 20,000 sqft facility with the ability to expand and double the size of the facility to 40,000 sqft. Page two of the RFP reads as follows.
The building should accommodate, on one level, approximately 20,000 usable square feet (USF). See Attachment B attached hereto. Attached Sheets 1 through 22 provide detail requirements for each of the rooms/spaces listed on the Preliminary Program Summary (Attachment B). All references to building area/square foot will be defined by the Building Managers and Owners Association (BOMA). The Tenant also desires the option to expand facilities in two increments of up to 10,000 usable square feet each to a total of 40,000 usable square feet on the site.
According to the Omaha World Herald, the Learning Community Finance Director has already conceded that just building 20,000 sqft building will lead to a tax hike. OWH article states “But within two years, a tax hike will be needed, said Brian Gabrial, finance director of the metro Omaha education cooperative that encompasses all of Douglas and Sarpy Counties and part of Washington County.”
Here is what we know:
- The building will cost taxpayers around $4 million.
- The ongoing expense to the taxpayer will be around $522,000 annually.
- Based on CEO Ted Stillwell’s interview with Tom Becka, an additional cost of around $500,000 for annual staffing costs for the North and South Omaha facilities will be incurred.
- The 20,000 sqft North Omaha facility could morph into 40,000 sqft facility.
- Learning Community Finance Director, Brian Gabrial, thinks thinks taxes will go up.
Here is what we do not know:
- If this grows into a 40,000 sqft facility, what will it cost the taxpayers?
- Are these facilities planned to be built across Douglas and Sarpy Counties?
- After this facility is built and becomes entrenched in the community, is there as possibility that the Learning Community will ever be dissolved regardless of performance?
Please click here for the full RFP referenced earlier.