A complete makeover project was approved for the Brainerd School District lower athletic site.
Funding for that $3.4 million project, though, is yet to be decided.
The Brainerd School Board met Monday, with all members agreeing that the lower site athletic complex needs a face-lift, and that revamp should come in the form of synthetic turf.
The divide came in how to fund it.
The first vote Monday was to fund the project under lease levy, which failed on a 3-3 vote. The second vote was to fund the project under the general obligation bond with a 10-year wrap around, which failed by a 3-3 vote.
The school board members who supported the lease levy were Bob Nystrom, Reed Campbell and Tom Haglin.
Those who supported funding the project through bonds were Chris Robinson, Ruth Nelson and Sue Kern.
When the first two motions failed, board members suggested approving moving forward with the project as presented, with the funding option to be discussed further at a future special school board meeting.
Razidlo said officials must be careful to not delay construction and the hopeful opening in the 2014-15 school year.
The vote to approve the project, but postpone the funding decision passed, with Robinson voting against it.
The lower site — the district’s football field, track field, tennis courts and drainage of the entire site — was built in 1975, and has only seen routine maintenance and repairs since.
Steve Lund, director of business services for the district, presented two funding options:
Lease levy: District lease levy limits would be pushed to about 70 percent of maximum. The district is currently at about 43 percent. This move would push Brainerd higher than the state average, and it would limit the district’s ability to use lease levy for other projects and needs. The tax impact for a $100,000 residential property would be $3.53 a year.
Election: If the project goes before the public for approval, it would be funded through bonds. There would be a price tag of about $50,000 should the district lead its own election, or a minimal cost if it participated in the primary of general elections. The tax impact for a $100,000 residential property would be $4.31 a year for a 15-year amortized general obligation bond. The tax impact for a $100,000 residential property would be $1.59 a year for a 10-year wrap around GO bond.
Superintendent Steve Razidlo said administration is recommending the lease levy option because the project more closely resembles a maintenance issue, and because maintenance issues have typically not been subject to referendum.
Nystrom said the lower site was a “jewel” when it was first built.
“We need a vision for the future. I think we all agree something has to be done,” he said.
He added, “We need to do something with lower site. It is a mess.”
Jeff Hilborn, who spoke on behalf of the Brainerd Sports Boosters during the public forum part of the meeting Monday, urged officials to vote in favor of an upgrade.
“We have the opportunity to impact a lot of students in very positive way,” he said.
A new turf field would expand from the current 20 uses a year to well more than 100, said activities director Charlie Campbell.
The football field doesn’t get used much because of the vulnerable grass that gets beat up with extended use and wet weather.
“We largely keep folks off that field unless it’s a game,” he said.