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Council agrees to $7M bond; only 57% of project financed

Even as the Andalusia City Council agreed to secure a $7 million bond for construction projects at Andalusia High School, city leaders expressed pleasure that only 57 percent of the total project will be financed.

“I can’t think of another project in the history of this city that has been done this way,” Mayor Earl Johnson said Tuesday night.

The project, which totally renovates the AHS auditorium and football stadium, is expected to cost $12.245 million. The city board of education has entered a $9.3 million contract with Wyatt Sasser Construction for the renovations, and other pieces of the total project will be added as the funding allows.

The 25-year payout is secured with proceeds of a half-cent sales tax inside the City of Andalusia designated for education. For the past two years, the city and the board have set aside $500,000 each year to put toward this planned project.

The bond payments were designed to be approximately $450,000 – or less than the board is accustomed to setting aside each year. The $50,000 difference in what has been set aside and the estimate payment will go into a reserve fund for maintenance.

In addition to the monies set aside from the sales tax, Rep. Mike Jones has secured $1.25 million in state funding, and the Public Education Building Authority (PEBA) has raised private monies for the project. The balance will come from the board’s reserve funds.

Dr. Charles Eldridge, who chairs the PEBA, said in addition to the $500,000 it has raised for the project, he believes they can add $300,00 or more in private monies to the total. Contributions received or pledged to date range from $50 to $150,000, he said.

“From a public perception and political point of view, this is a popular program,” Eldridge said. “People see this as a positive thing, that will improve the quality of life for students, and be a positive draw for people moving to the Andalusia area.”