Isle of Wight increases budget by $2.3 million for Hardy water

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Isle of Wight County supervisors voted unanimously on May 18 to increase the county’s 2022-23 budget by $2.3 million to pay for a pump station that will serve the new Hardy Elementary School and surrounding areas.

The station will facilitate the filling of a 500,000-gallon on-site water tower at the school.

According to County Administrator Randy Keaton, Isle of Wight had anticipated spending around $1 million to build the station but recently received five bids, all at least double that amount.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Roughly 69% of the added cost, or $1.4 million, will come from additional proffers the county has received from housing developments.

Proffers are commitments made by developers to mitigate the impact of building new houses, such as cash payments or land for infrastructure. According to Keaton, the county had accumulated roughly $600,000 in cash proffers from nearby housing developments prior to the start of Hardy’s construction in 2021. Since then, the county has received $1.4 million in additional proffers from developments that are now underway.

Just under $584,000 will come from money the county had originally borrowed to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus equipment for the county’s fire departments. The county recently received a federal grant in the amount of $959,020 to partially fund the SCBA purchase, allowing some of the bond funds to be allocated elsewhere.

The new two-story Hardy is set to open in September with capacity for just under 900 students. The circa-1961 one-story Hardy it will replace is slated for demolition this summer, though the old school’s gymnasium and an adjacent wing will be left standing and repurposed as Isle of Wight County Schools’ new central office.

The budget amendment is the latest instance of costs associated with the Hardy project having soared beyond expectations.

Last fall, the county accepted a $2.5 million bid to complete the second phase of extending water service from Smithfield to Hardy – an amount higher than the combined total the county had anticipated spending on both phases plus the pump station.

In 2021, the cost of the school itself increased from $33.7 million to $36.8 million in the span of a month due to inflated steel costs that had emerged from COVID-19 pandemic-related supply chain issues.