Abbot School

Special Town Meeting Scheduled for July 10; Quorum of 200 Needed

Selectmen set the warrant on June 13 for a special Town Meeting on July 10. WESTFORDCAT PHOTO

Selectmen set the warrant on June 13 for a special Town Meeting on July 10. WESTFORDCAT PHOTO


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Selectmen scheduled a special Town Meeting for July 10 to resolve two pending financial issues.

Voters will be asked to: (1) approve additional funding for the combined dispatch center; and (2) to approve funds for a schematic design study for a partial roof replacement at the Abbot Elementary School.

The two construction projects are rooted in time constraints.

Construction on the dispatch center, formerly the training room inside the police station, has come to a halt due to a shortage of funds, according to Town Manager Jodi Ross. The article will seek an additional $325,000 to cover the costs.

“We discovered that there are insufficient funds to finish this project,” said Ross on June 13.

The 2015 annual Town Meeting approved $1,029,000 for the transformation of the room.

Kirk Ware, a member of the Permanent Town Building Committee, said the project began with an estimate without drawings and details.

“What we discovered is the numbers were just plain not accurate,” he said.

The construction costs are $200,000 more than were estimated. The furnishings are $100,000 more expensive than estimated, and the architectural fees are $50,000 higher than estimated.

Ross spelled out the four options for filling the financial gap:

  1. If a special Town Meeting is held before the end of the fiscal year, June 30, it could come out of free cash. This requires a majority vote.
  2. If it’s held after the end of the fiscal year, the funds would come out of the capital stabilization fund, requiring a two-thirds vote of approval.
  3. Selectmen could ask for voters permission to re-appropriate from the ongoing center fire station project. That would require a two-thirds vote at special Town Meeting
  4. The Municipal Monetization Act allows funds to be transferred from one operating budget to another at the end of the fiscal year.

Selectmen opted to take the funds out of the capital stabilization fund.

Ross noted that there are pending mitigation funds of $200,000 that will eventually come from the Cornerstone Square developer, Robert Walker and could be applied to the project.

The Abbot School roof

School Department officials filed a statement of interest in February for reimbursement funds from the Massachusetts School Building Authority that would allow them to replace part or the entire roof at the Abbot School.

The MSBA “is a quasi-independent government authority created to reform the process of funding capital improvement projects in the commonwealth’s public schools,” according to the website.

“I was quite surprised when in May, they voted on it and accepted us into it, said Kathy Auth, director of school finance. Auth said officials have 60 days from May 12 to indicate their support of the whole project to the MSBA. The town must vote its approval for the schematic design in order to qualify, she said.

“The process requires community support,” said Tom Mahanna, chairman of the Permanent Town Building Committee.

The process opens the door on as much as a 48 percent reimbursement of whatever funds get spent on replacing the roof, said Selectman Tom Clay.

“And this is an important project that we need to do anyway,” he added.

The special Town Meeting takes place on July 10, 7 p.m., at the Abbot School. A quorum of 200 is required.