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Special Town Meeting to decide funding for fire station

Date: 3/13/2012

March 12, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — A Special Town Meeting will take place on April 2 to see if residents will approve the reallocation of money from funds to finance part of the renovation and expansion of the main fire station on Boston Road.

Lance Trevallion, building inspector and project manager for the expansion, explained to the Board of Selectmen that in order to stay under budget, the renovation committee had to leave certain elements of the plans out of the bid request, which recently went out.

The committee hopes to utilize unused funds from other accounts to make up the difference and pay for at least some of the more crucial items.

"We did open bids last week and we have a base bid of $2.1 million," Trevallion told the Selectmen at their March 5 meeting. "The way we designed the bid for this project, we ended up with eight alternates. If we add all the alternates together, we're looking at a total of $2.7 million [for the total project]."

Trevallion said the committee has $2.2 million allocated for the project, which was approved at the May, 2011, Town Meeting, leaving the project approximately $500,000 short of total completion.

Among the alternates, which must be completed in the prioritized order listed, are a "fit-out" of the living quarters, estimated to cost nearly $200,000, according to Trevallion.

Construction of the technology infrastructure was the second alternate, estimated at $30,000, followed by an HVAC system upgrade anticipated to cost $56,400.

New glass and aluminum overhead doors, new cabinets, outdoor canopies and a heat-radiant floor in the apparatus bay and landscaping rounded out the list of alternates.

"Alternates one through five are basically essential," Trevallion said.

Fire Chief Francis Nothe and Trevallion outlined a plan to take $195,000 out of the Capital Stabilization Fund and $340,000 out of the Ambulance Fund to finish the project.

"[The Capital Stabilization Fund] has been in place for the past eight or 10 years . and hasn't been touched since its inception," Trevallion said. "It started back when we did a town-wide study of all the major projects . and the realization was we didn't have enough money to do any of them, short of going to a [Proposition 2 1/2] override vote."

Nothe explained that the Ambulance Fund is made up of "leftover funds from each year since 1992 as we close the budget year out."

"Any surplus would roll back into a cash account to be reappropriated over the years," he said.

The Capital Planning Committee backed the idea, stating that it would leave the current capital planning budget unaffected, allowing the town to continue pursuing other capital concerns.

"We originally have for this year $150,000 in building funding to fund capital projects. We also have $75,000 of completed projects surplus funds that we have been saving for quite some time and we've already had meetings about the disposition of that money prior to this happening," Planning Committee Chair Robert Quintin said. "We have a choice. We can strip the capital budget of the money that we have available and put it toward this building or we can take the money from the Capital Stabilization Fund, which would be half of it.

"At first, I wasn't really keen on taking the money out of the stabilization fund, but after listening to [Town Administrator Robert Weitz's] points and some of the other members, I was convinced that stripping the capital projects this year is not a good idea. Some of these projects have been waiting for a long time," he continued.

Selectmen Robert Boilard and James Thompson agreed and unanimously passed a motion to approve the Special Town Meeting. Board of Selectmen Chair Patrick Brady was not present.

"Because of the fact that this is old money and we have not touched a dime of it in at least eight years, this is the time to use that funding and not interfere with other projects," Thompson said.

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