To the Editor,
I take exception to the article written my Mr. Scogin on page one and continued on page 8 of last Saturday’s Georgetown News-Graphic regarding lighting for Sutton Field.
I am in my second term as Magistrate for District 6 of Scott County. During my first four-year term, the subject of new lights for Sutton Field never came before us. Judge Lusby retired and Judge Covington took over and within two months a request for approximately $360,000 dollars came before us to install new lights on Sutton Field because the current lights are old and do not meet KHSAA standards for high school baseball games.
It was a hard pill to swallow and I voiced my concerns at that time. I’d have difficulty explaining to my neighbors in District 6 why the county should spend $300 thousand on lights so the high school can play baseball at night. I’m not sure it is legal or right for one local taxing entity (fiscal court) to subsidize another local taxing entity (Scott County Board of Education). Especially considering the amount of money the school board recently spent on Great Crossings High School and the adjoining athletic complex.
My fellow magistrates and I did discover approximately two years ago the fiscal court was leasing Sutton Field in Brooking Park to the BOE for $10,000 a year and that the lease had been in effect for many years. Recently the subject of new lights for Sutton Field was broached by our school board superintendent during a recent meeting. Our school board superintendent reminded the school board the fiscal court built tennis courts at Great Crossing Park and that saved the school board $800,000.
I asked Magistrates Palmer, Corman and Hostetler if we ever discussed leasing our new tennis courts at GC Park to the BOE. The answer was “No” as I suspected. So, I am left wondering who is making these behind the scenes deals.
Now the new deal on the lights at Sutton Field is for the fiscal court to pay half up front and the BOE to pay half of the $300,000 in increased annual lease payments over the next three years. This makes it a bit more tolerable by leaving the county on the hook for $150,000 of the total $300,000 cost. But the fiscal court will have to pay the whole $300,000 up front. This amount is lowered some as Verizon wants to place a cell tower in the park, allow us to place lights for the field on the cell tower and pay the county $12,000 a year.
So in six years we will have realized $72,000 to help offset the cost of the new lights. The rest of the payback comes in the form of utility savings (incandescent vs. LED lights) over the next six years of approximately $12,000 per year or another $72,000. This is all contingent upon the school board paying $150,000 over the next three years for the new lights. If the BOE balks the deal dies.
Contrary to what Mr. Scogin reported in his article on page 8 of last Saturday’s GNG, I held my nose and voted YES for the measure. My vote really did not matter as the motion to accept had passed 5 to 1 by the time it came to me.
Bill Burke, Magistrate District 6
Editor’s Note: The article in question and unofficial Scott County Fiscal Court minutes state Magistrate Bill Burke voted against the agreement between fiscal court and the Scott County Board of Education allowing Scott County High School to use Sutton Field. Magistrate Burke seconded and voted for the actual purchase of lights for Sutton Field.