Energy Saving Talks Heat Up in Ohio County Schools

Photo by Joselyn King Ohio County Board of Education members Sarah Koegler, left, Molly Aderholt and board President Zach Abraham review the district’s financial statements before Monday night’s board meeting.

WHEELING — Ohio County Schools needs to raise $6.35 million to begin cost-saving heating, air conditioning and lighting upgrades throughout the school district.

Board of Education members Monday night heard a presentation from Ed McLiney, a municipal adviser and underwriter with McLiney and Co. of Mission, Kansas. He wants to be the financial expert who sells performance lease agreements for Ohio County Schools to raise the $6.35 million for energy projects.

The selling of the performance lease agreements would be separate from the selling of $42.2 million in bond sales approved by county voters in May. That bond issue included language stating that in addition to the bond money, the school district would seek $27 million from the State School Building Authority, and also could realize an additional $6.35 million through energy-saving improvements.

Ohio County Schools must fund the energy upgrades upfront, with projected savings used in the future to pay back the debt.

McLiney said he has organized the selling of performance lease agreements for West Virginia school districts during the past 20 years — most recently in Wood and Berkeley counties. He said his firm is most familiar with markets where he can achieve the best interest rates for the lease agreements.

McLiney said he intended to give local banks and investors first opportunity to invest in the agreement, and would encourage them to join together as a group for the investment.

Following the presentation, board members discussed the possibility of hiring McLiney. Member David Croft examined his proposed contract, and estimated the fees the board would pay McLiney would be between $35,000 and $40,000.

The Dinsmore and Shohl law firm recommended McLiney and Co. to Ohio County Schools.

Board President Zach Abraham said the board would table the idea of hiring McLiney until it has “done its due diligence” and fully vetted references, and checked with local banks for rates.

Ernie Dellatorre, president of McKinley & Associates of Wheeling, also addressed the board. He said the firm would be working with engineering firm CMTA on HVAC and lighting projects for Ohio County Schools. The work is expected to start next summer at Triadelphia and Bridge Street middle schools once the funding is in place.

The board also discussed the potential hiring of a school security expert to provide advice on how best to design upgrades in the school to protect students and staff. Members agreed to continue the discussion at future meetings.

The board convenes again today for a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. that has been moved to the board office, 2203 National Road, Elm Grove. The board will be hosting its annual legislative forum, and local state senators and House of Delegates members have been invited.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 8 at the board office.

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