Selectmen Back Plan for $1.7 Million for Department of Public Works Facility

Selectmen agreed to support article 12 on the Town Meeting warrant.

Selectmen last night agreed to recommend in favor of article 12 at the April 30 Town Meeting, which calls for a $1.7 million appropriation for the new facility.

The new facility, which is currently being built on Alpha Road, needs an extra $1.7 million to pay for the second phase of construction. Of the $6.5 million already appropriated by Town Meeting for the facility, $1.4 million was left over after phase one construction, including securing the site, roof work, and interior office demolition.

Now, phase two costs are estimated at $3 million, according to Permanent Building Committee co-chairman Pat Maloney. Article 12 of Town Meeting ask for an appropriation of $1.7 million to pay for vehicle storage areas, office space for administration, workshop installation, and a salt storage facility.

The town's highway, parks, sewer and engineering departments will all be housed in the facility, said Town Manager Paul Cohen. 

Town Finance Director John Sousa said a "few hundred thousand" of the $1.7 million can be paid for from unexpended bond proceeds from the town's previous school building projects.

"Whenever we issue debt, if we don’t expend it all, we can re-appropriate that to another project of similar time frame," said Sousa. 

The $1.5 million left over, Sousa proposes, can come from the town's stabilization account knowing officials plan to deposit at least $1.8 million in free cash back into that account in October.

Currently, the town's stabilization account has about $7.9 million in it, Sousa said. 

"We brought the account (from) a low of $1.2 million to around $7.9 million today, (which is about) 7.5 percent of the general operating budget," said Sousa. The state recommends keeping between 5 and 10 percent of the town's budget in stabilization. " Even with (the withdrawal), it'll bring us to 6.1 percent ... and we fully expect a few months later to replenish stabilization."

Selectmen Chairman Jon Kurland asked Sousa if the withdrawal could negatively affect the town's bond rating by Standard & Poor's.

"They'll see a positive trend for three consecutive years, even though they will see a withdrawal," said Sousa, adding he will give a presentation to Standard & Poor's on the matter and explain the situation. "We'll explain that (the money) will go back in." 


Keith Walsh April 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Unless I am missing something (and please correct me if I am because I would love to be more informed), it seems like elected officials in this town are spending (or would like to spend) money on just about everything except schools. As the father of a young daughter, I would really like to see a meaningful investment in our schools as many are becoming antiquated. While the center fire station is undoubtedly in need of a replacement, $8 million seems like a lot when we have several schools in this town that also need to be brought into the 21st century. For example, does the 3 bay center fire station really need to be replaced with a 5 bay center fire station when we have other stations located all over town?
Daniel Koutsoufis April 10, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Keith, an excellent observation, but please keep in mind that originally, the center fire station was five bays. There are two bays in the basement of the building that are rendered useless because of the shoring necessary to support the failing floor. Building a five bay station takes the fire department back up to its capacity prior to 2005 or so when the shoring was installed.
Paul E. Cohen April 10, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Keith, the Town just completed a $1.8M project to replace all of the windows at Chelmsford High School and a $500,000 project to replace the roof at the Byam School. At the April 30 Town Meeting, an addiitonal $1.5M will be requested for capital investment in other school buildings and school technology.
taxedtoohigh April 10, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Very well said Keith. I would growl at Paul E. Cohen if I could.
Maria Karafelis April 10, 2012 at 04:09 PM
re; taxedtoohigh Really, growl?
Keith Walsh April 10, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Daniel, thank you for the information re: the existing center fire station. I was not aware that there were two bays rendered unusable on the lower level. Perhaps others in town were not aware of that fact as well and are similarly questioning why the proposal is to go from what appears (on its face) to be a 3 bay fire station to a 5 bay fire station. Certainly demonstrating the value of the comment threads on "The Patch" in my opinion. Paul, thank you for the information as to what expenditures have been made on schools, and the plans for an additional request at the next town meeting. While improved public safety (i.e., the center fire station) is certainly a worthy goal, I am hoping that no one loses site of the needs of the towns schools, as I can not think of a worthier goal than improved education for the kids of our town town (spoken as both a graduate of the Chelmsford Public School system and the father of a future graduate).
Jim Stratton April 10, 2012 at 10:59 PM
"Now, phase two costs are estimated at $3 million, according to Permanent Building Committee co-chairman Pat Maloney." - what was the original estimate for phase two costs, before "now"?
Paul E. Cohen April 11, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Jim, if one goes back to the origination of the DPW project in 2009, the total project cost was $13M. This next phase will provide for the occupancy of the DPW facility. After the experience of operating in the facility, a determination will be made as to what additional proposal, if any, may be brought forward to town meeting for consideration.
Jim Stratton April 11, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Thank you.


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