Nabholz and Paul-Wertenberger Construction, the construction managers at risk for the proposed Hays $78.5 million bond issue, met with about 40 local vendors and their employees Tuesday afternoon to talk about their role in the potential construction.
The total economic impact of the bond is estimated at $189 million and could employ as many as 150 workers over three years.
The bond proposes construction of two new elementary schools and renovations at Roosevelt Elementary School, O’Loughlin Elementary School, Hays Middle School and Hays High School.
Should the bond pass, it will take about nine months to a year for architectural plans to be created for the schools. The construction would be done in phases with the new elementary schools likely to break ground first.
Troy Wade of DLR, the district’s architectural firm, said the money invested in the bond would turn over three to seven times in the local economy.
The district spends money with a local contractor, he explained. That contractor pays its local employees. Those employees spend money at a local business. That local business in turn pays its local employees who also spend money in the local economy. In this way, money spent locally stays in the local economy, Wade said.
Ron Ferris, Nabholz business development officer, said as a construction manager at risk, his company’s goal is to oversee the safety and quality of the project and use local subcontractors to do the work.
In written response to Hays Post questions Wednesday, Ferris said, “Given the number of quality subcontractors in Hays, we believe that a conservative estimate for local employment throughout the projects should exceed 150 workers.
“In addition, the local economy should see a boost in sales with other suppliers, vendors, restaurants and shops of all kinds. Keeping the dollars local is extremely important as those dollars will be re-spent in Hays again and again.”
As construction managers at risk, Nabholz and Wertenberger guarantee the price on a project. If the project goes over budget, the construction manager at risk pays the difference. If the project comes in under budget, the school district keeps the extra money.
Robby Manthei, Nabholz project manager, said Nabholz has had good success with working with local contractors. Once they connect with local contractors, he said the company has also been able to bring those rural companies on projects in bigger communities.
Owners and managers of several of the companies who attended the meeting Tuesday said they had worked with Nabholz in the past.
For some in attendance, not all of whom wished to have their names published, the prospect of work was tempered by the prospect of increased taxes.
Bob Herl of RDH Electric said the work would be welcome. The downward turn in oil prices and ag commodities has slowed work in the community. His company has had to go farther from Hays to find work.
The school bond projects are just the kind of work RDH specializes in.
However, Herl said Hays needs to work on broadening its tax base. He said the community relies too heavily on a commodity-based economy.
“We are continuing to come back to the water well for these same things,” Herl said. “We need to bring in new industry. It does not have to be huge industry. We ought to be able to open up new commerce. We are going back to the same people. I used not to be a gray-haired guy, but I have been a taxpayer for a long time. When the taxes start peeling away and being more than you can take in, it tends to be an issue.
“I wish this could have been taken care of a long time ago,” he said of the bond.
Herl said he thought the schools need upgrades. He said the fact that other area school districts have had two and three bonds and the Hays has not had any is telling.
“It is what is required here. You can only live in this stuff so long. It is no different than your house,” he said. “If you don’t take care of your stuff, it is eventually going to be unlivable. This is no different. We haven’t done that for quite some time.”