After reviewing a cost benefit analysis and discussing the matter on June 15, the Waitsfield Select Board voted unanimously to continue with plans to build a new town office versus purchase the People's United Bank building and remodel it.
At this week's select board meeting, town administrator Valerie Capels presented a cost benefit analysis to the board and those present. The cost benefit analysis that she prepared was modified by the board to reflect changes that they felt should be included.
Bottom line? If the town were to buy the People's United Bank building when it is vacated in July, the operating costs would be more than four times those of the Farm Stand site. The cost of purchasing the bank and rehabbing it, assuming the town still received a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant – which it has for the project at the Farm Stand site – would be almost $30,000 higher. The bottom line was Farm Stand site $660,141 and bank $698,890.
Voters have authorized the town to borrow up to $650,000 for the project.
The changes that select board members asked Capels to make included adding to the cost of the bank all money spent to date on permitting and engineering and architectural services for the Farm Stand site. That adds $205,500 to the bottom line cost of the bank.
"Regardless of which building we pursue, we've sunk this money into the new town office project so it should be included in both analyses," board member Scott Kingsbury said.
The operating costs for the Farm Stand site reflect new construction with solar power coming from the town's solar array. Annual operating costs were estimated at $17,012 for the Farm Stand site, compared with $85,788 for the bank. The costs of the bank include $8,963 in fuel plus $34,096 in building maintenance services. That line item was not explained. The similar line item for the Farm Stand site is $500.
Capels was asked about the size of the vaults at the bank and the Farm Stand. She said that the bank vault was 140 square feet, the Farm Stand vault would be 266 square feet and the current vault is less than 100 square feet.
Before making its decision, the board discussed the finances of building at the Farm Stand site, including how much of the town's request for $225,000 in additional Community Development Block Grant funding would be received.
When it became apparent that the $750,000 grant the town already received plus the $650,000 bond that voters approved for the project would not be enough to build the new town offices at the Farm Stand site, the town applied for additional funding. Rather than $225,000 the town was awarded $123,000.
ARE WE SHORT?
"So are we short?" asked select board member Sal Spinosa.
"Based on the expenses we're projecting and revenues that we have, we're still short $17,000; however, there are projected expenditures that already include a $62,500 contingency.
The low-bid construction cost of the new building is $1,275,000, but if the other costs associated with it are added in, including a generator, materials testing, water connection fee, clerk of the works, contingency and grant administration, plus design, engineering and permitting, the costs come to $1,564,981. That does not include the $100,000 donation that the town received for the Farm Stand property.
LOW BID PROVIDER
The board voted to pursue the Farm Stand site and sign a contract with the low bid provider and begin looking at additions and alternatives for the project to see where cuts could be made. The $1,275,000 construction low bid already includes two additions/alternatives, a glass walk on the second floor and arched windows at costs of $4,875 and $2,319, respectively.
At this week's meeting, Capels said that with the new grant funds, coupled with a loan for the septic system and a stormwater grant, plus a Street Trees grant would mean that the project costs exceed available funds by $17,000 – an amount that can come out of the $62,500 contingency fund if the board doesn't make $17,000 in cuts to the project.