School security funds sliced as selectmen cut back $10.2M capital projects list
The Board of Selectmen spent more than two hours Wednesday trimming proposals from $10.2 million in total capital projects requested for the new fiscal year -- including a cut of nearly 50 percent in funds for school security upgrades -- but postponed a final vote until a special meeting next week.
The largest cut was to the Board of Education's $3.2 million request for security projects at all school buildings. Since not all of the projects would be completed in one year, the selectmen felt the request could be cut. After Superintendent of Schools David Title huddled with Deputy Police Chief Chris Lyddy, they said that $1.76 million would needed to complete the first year of the multi-year security project.
Title and Lyddy were reluctant to publicly discuss what projects would be done and at what schools during the first year. The overall project, however, includes installation of safety film on windows, a visitor management system and new fences, among other things.
The selectmen also cut $382,000 to replace two 50-year-old boilers at Jennings School, which Title said are part of a plan to replace aging boilers throughout the district.
In fact, he said, both boilers failed over the weekend, although both were repaired and back in service. School board Chairman Philip Dwyer warned that putting replacement off another year could result in having to replace the boilers on a emergency basis, which would likely would cost more than $382,000. Selectman Kevin Kiley voted against the boiler cut.
First Selectman Michael Tetreau said this year's non-recurring capital requests were twice as large as they have been in the past, both on the town and school sides of the budget ledger and the numbers needed to be reduced. "I don't remember a number this high," Tetreau said.
"The number is bigger than it typically is," Title said of the school projects, but added that was because of the safety component.
"It looks dangerous," Tetreau said of the turf field's current condition. "This didn't get bad overnight, why wasn't it in before?"
Title said, "We actually backed it up to get it to this year. We have to look at other projects that were larger issues as well."
Town officials submitted $4.7 million in capital requests, and cut from that list, at least on a preliminary basis, were $1 million for paving, $200,000 for a six-wheel dump truck, $228,000 for a 10-wheel dump truck, $275,000 for dredging the pond at Gould Manor Park and $300,000 for energy improvements at Sullivan-Independence Hall.