School roof repair, warranty funds clear finance hurdle
The Board of Finance spent close to three hours Tuesday night trying to make sure a proposal to make roof repairs and extend their warranties at five elementary schools had no holes in it.
The $901,467 request, approved on a 5-3 vote, next goes to the Representative Town Meeting.
In addition to fixing the roofs, their warranties, all due to expire shortly, would be extended another five years for Sherman, North Stratfield, Osborn Hill, Riverfield and Holland Hill schools.
But some finance board members felt the costs of the repairs were being driven by the requirements of the manufacturer, Johns Manville.
"I think the process has been flawed," said finance board member Ken Brachfeld, though he said that doesn't mean he doesn't believe that there aren't roof repairs that need to be done. He said he questioned the cost estimates that were used, since prices were based on the cost of Johns Manville materials.
"I think it's a fair point," said board Chairman Thomas Flynn. "My concern is we've been holding up some needed projects for so long."
The request for the roof repair and warranty funding was tabled by the Board of Finance in July.
The warranty extension accounts for $15,684 of the funding request.
Town Facilities Commission member Sol Briks said it is "fairly unique" for a manufacturer to extend a warranty at the end of the roof's life. He also said it has been his experience that most manufacturers "find every which way" to deny warranty claims.
"The warranty part of this bothers me because we're giving over control to the manufacturer and they're spending our money to protect themselves," Briks said.
In order to qualify for the extension, the roofs would have to meet standards set by Johns Manville.
School officials said they have had a good record of having repairs paid for under warranties, and said the repair work should extend the life of the roofs by 10 years.
Sal Morabito, manager of construction, security and safety for the Board of Education, said doing this work now will put off the greater costs of total roof replacement, allowing the school district to take care of other priorities.
The warranty program, he said, "is a lot of bang for the buck."