Special Town Meeting Warrant Signed

The Rochester Board of Selectmen signed the warrant for the Special Fall Town Meeting Warrant which will be held on Monday, October 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Memorial School.  The warrant was signed at the Selectmen’s regular meeting on Monday, September 24 in Rochester Town Hall.

The bulk of the warrant pertains to multiple capital projects around town that would help renovate numerous town buildings as well as acquire several new pieces of equipment for various town departments.  For the 12 items and renovations the town is asking for, the entire price tag is roughly $897,000.

The largest price tag on the list of capital projects is the total cost for renovations to the Town Hall, which would cost the town approximately $250,000.  According to Town Administrator Richard LaCamera, the roof, trim, and windows all need to be replaced or repaired.  Nothing inside the hall, however, will be fixed.

“We want to protect the envelope of this building,” said LaCamera.  ”Nothing inside is going to change.  The most important thing is that it looks the same.”

Looking to preserve the historical presence of the hall but increase its longevity, LaCamera suggested that the town use more durable materials in the same color of paint that the hall presently uses.  Since the majority of the materials used when the building was last updated have a short life span, LaCamera would like to use shingles that are maintenance-free and would lost 40 years.  Furthermore, all 20 windows in the hall would be replaced, and the trim for the entire building would be maintenance-free just like the shingles.

“We’ve been struggling just like everyone else to fund capital projects in this economy,” said LaCamera.  ”We think this is a good investment for the town.”

In addition to the town hall repairs, both roofs on the Police Station and the Council on Aging need to be replaced.  Each project will cost the town roughly $40,000.  LaCamera suggested using the same shingles in the town hall renovation for these buildings so they will last about 40 years.  Currently, both buildings are shingled using materials that are only built to last ten years.

“We need to protect our assets,” said LaCamera of renovation town buildings.

If approved at town meeting, the Plumb Library could receive $25,000 to put towards a new lift, that would open up a new room to the public for various uses.  The library has a building downstairs that would provide ample spaces for tutors, reading groups and other library gatherings, however it is not open to the public because it is not handicap accessible.  The lift, which resembles an elevator car but not quite as elaborate, will allow handicapped citizens to use the facility.

Rochester currently has two fuel tanks in town – one diesel and one gasoline.  Both tanks need to be replaced, and the town is proposing a $125,000 tank that would house both fuel sources in a location to be determined. Both tanks are over 20 years old and need be replaced by the time they are 30 years old.

The Fire Department on Hartley Road is also seeking $25,000 in order to update the bathrooms and construct a kitchen area.  Since the department is staffed 24 hours now, the bathrooms are too small for the firefighters with dimensions of approximately 4×4. There is not presently a kitchen area where on duty firefighters and EMT’s can prepare food.

The town is looking for several new pieces of equipment. A one ton truck with plow ($55,000), one ton dump truck ($60,000), Highway mower ($100,000), new fire department radios ($17,000) and a fire chief vehicle ($40,000) are all on the warrant for approval.  Additionally, the town is seeking $120,000 to refurbish two fire engines. Repairing the engines will extend the lives of the engines 8-10 years.  A new fire truck would cost the town over $400,000.

LaCamera urges the town to approve the capital project article at Town Meeting because of the timing of the market.  Right now, interest rates are very low at 3,25% and would be the best choice economically. Also, the town’s bond rating right now is extremely good, making it easy for it to borrow money from lenders.

“At some point in time, everything will have to be done,” he said.  ”The market is extremely competitive right now.”

LaCamera also wants to assure residents that there will be no tax increase or override to bay for the cost of the projects.  In three years, some operating debt of the town will expire, freeing up some money to pay for the projects.  In the meantime, money in the town’s stabilization fund will be used to pay. LaCamera would to to go out to bid on these projects before town meeting so he can have finalized figures for residents in time for the vote.

The Selectmen will review the warrant on Monday, October 15 at 7:00 pm in Town Hall.  The public is invited to attend.

By Katy Fitzpatrick

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