Waitsfield will seek an additional $25,000 in Vermont Community Development Block Grant funds to cover final costs associated with the construction of the new town office.
The select board, at its September 12 meeting, discussed the final tally on the project, $1,632,075, which is $21,702 more than the town has available to pay for the project. The town has a total of $1,610,373 from taxpayer funds and a variety of grants.
Costs associated with the project date back to 2013 when the town first created a Town Office Task Force and subsequently reviewed village and Irasville sites, including the former Methodist Church and the People’s United Bank building. All engineering, design, construction and fit up costs are included in that sum, including a $50,000 generator that the town didn’t know it would have to include.
Town administrator Valerie Capels explained to board members that the original budget did not include funds for chairs for the meeting room and new office furniture. Not all of the $21,702 cost overruns have been spent and she explained to the board that some of the items could be postponed until next year or be purchased at a later date. Some of the fit up costs, though, have been spent. Fit up costs came to $40,136, of which the town had budgeted some funds ($10,000) for fit up.
“We can choose not to make some of the purchases, we can delay until the next budget cycle or we can apply for more grant funding. The expenses we have are considered eligible,” Capels said.
“What’s the timeline?” asked board member Kari Dolan.
“It’s a rolling timeline, but we’d know in about a month,” Capels said.
“But some of these purchases have already been made – the phones, the copy machine,” board chair Paul Hartshorn commented.
“Also on the list is $8,000 for exterior signage that can be delayed,”Capels pointed out.
“If we pursue more grant funding and we’re successful, we’d be able to stay in the black. I prefer not to commit to costs that will end up with us over budget,” Dolan said.
Queried about the types of expenses that resulted in the deficit, Capels detailed a few things such as the need to purchase a 10-foot ladder for the basement of the building, the need for some type of window treatment in the bathrooms and the need for storage drawers for the town clerk’s and treasurer’s workstations.
She also noted a need in the public meeting room for a desk for the minute taker, as well as furniture for the area outside the public meeting room, a refrigerator and the need for $10,000 worth of sound attenuation baffles in the public meeting room.
“Did I hear you say a fridge?” Hartshorn asked. “What do we need one for?
“It’s on the list. This budget figure includes things we haven’t necessarily purchased, things that people have identified as desirable or needed,” Capels said.
Board member Darryl Forrest said that the employees can and do put things in the fridge – such as their lunches.
“So your question is whether we should seek more grant funding?” asked board member Sal Spinosa, before making a motion to seek additional grant funding.
Dolan, Forrest and Spinosa voted in favor of the motion. Hartshorn voted against it, explaining that he thought the overage was bad.
“I’m a little concerned about the spending. This project just kept growing and growing. But we have to do something about the noise,” he said, referring to the need for the sound attenuation baffles.
Waitsfield received a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the project, along with a second CDBG grant of $123,200 and had an additional $97,497 in grants, incentives, in kind contributions and town funds. Voters approved bonding for $650,000. The town also received a $100,000 donation for the land.