New fire truck cut from list of capital budget requests
FAIRFIELD — The $2.9 million list of non-recurring capital projects is moving through the approval process, with only one request not making it past the Board of Finance.
While the Board of Selectmen last week unanimously approved all the requests, Selectman Chris Tymniak said he had some concerns about the inclusion of $106,000 for a new command vehicle for the Fire Department.
When the request got to the Board of Finance Tuesday, they cut the funding from the bond request and instead urged Fire Chief Denis McCarthy to include the truck purchase as part of the department’s operating budget.
The finance board’s bonding policy lists the criteria for what can, and cannot be, including in a bond issue. One of the criteria is a cost of over $100,000, which the command vehicle meets. However, several members pointed out vehicles are normally part of an operating budget, with police cruisers given as an example.
Finance board member Chris DeWitt said, “I see a lot of similarity between a police vehicle and a fire vehicle.”
Fire Chief Dennis McCarthy said the vehicle, a large pickup truck, serves as the command vehicle at incident scenes. With a replacement schedule of every five years, when a new one is purchased, the current vehicle becomes a “second line” vehicle, used as a backup. The command vehicle that was the second line then becomes a utility vehicle, meaning each has a useful life of about five years.
DeWitt also questioned the cost. “I’m concerned we’re only bonding because it hit the threshold,” DeWitt said. “There’s more money in equipment than the actual vehicle. I hope we’re not trying to pump that number up to get to that threshold.”
The pickup truck’s base cost is $45,000, the rest is a specialized equipment package that the department’s maintenance men will install themselves to save money.
On the list is moving the town’s data production center, currently located in the basement of Sullivan Independence Hall, and the basement of the police station to the second floor of the police station.
The project, estimated to case $250,000, would consolidate the two centers, and get them out of the basement — not the best place for them, according to Information Technology Director David Kelley.
Both buildings, he said, are located in the 100-year floodplain, and First Selectman Mike Tetreau recalled the efforts of Public Works crews pumping water out of the Independence Hall parking lot in Superstorm Sandy.
The air conditioning unit at the town hall location, Kelley said, is nearing the end of its useful life, and is much larger than is needed for the seven-square-foot equipment rack.
School board projects include $345,250 for security upgrades to cover completion of “intrusion panels” at the town’s schools and $275,000 to fix the student parking lot at Fairfield Ludlowe High School. The parking lot project was on the list last year but was cut. Director Operations Thomas Cullen said it has gotten to the point that the repairs that have been made to the 13-year-old parking lot are no longer repairable. He said because of the state of the lot, it no longer makes sense to re-stripe the lot.
The selectmen were concerned whether the newly-installed solar panel carports would make redoing the lot more difficult or costly. Cullen said they made sure to have the carports installed high enough so that would not be an issue.
The projects are separated into three different bond issues — five years, 10 years, and 20 years — depending on the expected life of the project.
The Representative Town Meeting will consider the requests at its meeting later this month.
Approved non-recurring capital projects
Board of Education, IT switch replacement, $972,995
Board of Education IT electrical project, $204,000
Fairfield Woods Library elevator replacement $325,000
Golf Course 16th tee replacement, $100,000
Fire Department floor jacks, $120,000
Tidegate design, $225,000
Data Center relocation, $250,000
Board of Education security upgrades, $345,210
Fairfield Ludlowe High School student lot, $275,000