‘Saving taxpayers millions of dollars’: Alabama lawmaker wants to cut red tape for local school construction
Seeking to save taxpayers and local schools millions of dollars, one Alabama lawmaker has a plan to streamline the approval process for certain education construction projects.
State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) has sponsored legislation which allows school systems and community colleges to locally control construction projects when the estimated cost is $500,000 or less.
Under current Alabama law, the State Department of Finance’s Division of Construction Management in Montgomery maintains oversight responsibilities for construction projects at K-12 schools and local community colleges.
Shifting oversight from the state to local level will result in cost savings and quicker completion, according to supporters of the plan.
Dr. Jason Barnett, Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools, sees a need for the legislation and believes the transition to a more localized approached would be relatively seamless.
“We also have architects and we have facility managers and we have construction managers that we do contract with, we do partner with, and we do work with,” he recently told CBS 42.
Barnett cited one instance in which a local project experienced considerable savings when it removed state-level regulation of the job.
“A local municipality decided we can build that building,” explained Barnett. “We can build the same building, the same architect rendering, the same everything, ultimately saved us about $790,000.”
“Maintenance and repair are an important part of making sure our children have the best and safest possible classrooms and learning environments,” Ledbetter told Yellowhammer News. “Taking the bureaucracy out of that will end up saving taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Ledbetter’s proposal includes provisions requiring projects to meet applicable building codes.
The bill has passed the House of Representatives, as well as the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. It now awaits approval from the full Senate.
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia