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Questions about capital projects prompt RTM to postpone vote

Updated 6:43 am, Tuesday, February 26, 2013
  • Representative Town Meeting members at Monday night's session in the Education Center where action was delayed on bonding for capital projects when members raised a series of questions.  FAIRFIELD CITIZEN, CT 2/25/13 Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Fairfield Citizen
    Representative Town Meeting members at Monday night's session in the Education Center where action was delayed on bonding for capital projects when members raised a series of questions. FAIRFIELD CITIZEN, CT 2/25/13 Photo: Genevieve Reilly

 

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An onslaught of questions about $1.037 million for proposed capital projects, as well as the approval process for financing those projects, led the Representative Town Meeting to postpone action Monday on the bonding request until next month.

"We have a whole bunch of questions," said Minority Leader Hal Schwartz, D-7. Schwartz said he'd like to hear department heads explain more details about the requests, such as the fire and police chiefs.

The list of projects includes $172,000 for HVAC improvements at Fire Department headquarters, $160,000 for HVAC improvements at Police Department headquarters, another $105,000 for an emergency generator at old Town Hall and $200,000 for roof repairs at the Fairfield Woods Branch library.

David Becker, R-1, said he thought there were more detailed fact sheets presented for non-recurring capital projects last year. "This seemed to be lacking that," he said.

And Ellen Jacob, R-9, said, some of the proposals seem to "keep coming up over and over again," and thinks the RTM should be provided with a history of "how similar projects were costed out, what we bonded originally, what it ended up costing" and if any grant money that was received to offset the town's cost.

But David MacKenzie, R-3, also wanted to discuss the funding approval process that municipal projects go through. Right now, he said, funding requests are based on best estimates, "but it's not really nailed down." Funding approval comes before detailed project specs are drawn up and prior to a project going out to bid.

"This body doesn't decide on the process," Schwartz said. "We can discuss it all we want," he said, but the process is decided by the Board of Finance.

Peter Ambrose, R-2, said he agreed that the process needs to be improved, but John Mitola, D-2, said he's been told that the reason funding is approved before projects are sent out to bid is because contractors are not going to spend time and money on a bid if they don't have assurances that the project will actually take place.

Moderator Jeffrey Steele said the issue of the approval process is always worth discussing, and should be something debated by the legislative body. "We're certainly not dropping the discussion," he said.

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