Council mulls $5M Bond for upgrades to schools, roads

Taken from an article in the Portsmouth Herald

architectCouncil mulls $5M Bond for upgrades to schools, roads

Decision could come down to voter approval in Nov.
August 08, 2014 2:00 AM

KITTERY, Maine — School and municipal buildings are in need of repair and upgrades, and no funds have been appropriated for town roads in five years. With this in mind, the Town Council may seek voter approval this fall to bond up to $5 million for these projects.

The council will meet in workshop session Aug. 18 to begin discussion of the issue, with an eye toward putting a measure on the ballot this November. According to Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff, a number of repairs and upgrades to school buildings and the Kittery Community Center have been forestalled in recent years. While money for the projects are in the Capital Improvement Program, the CIP is funded at the same $1.5 million it has received since its inception in 2008, she said.

“If something doesn’t get funded in a particular year, it gets pushed out,” she said.

Projects that would be undertaken if a bond is approved include painting, window caulking, lighting, carpet replacement and a new generator at Traip Academy; replacement of the heating and air conditioning unit at Shapleigh Middle School; and a new furnace at Mitchell Primary School. The primary municipal project is work at the Kittery Community Center annex; at a minimum, replacement of the roof and windows, Colbert Puff said.

The majority of the funds would be spent on roadwork, which has not been funded in half a decade. Colbert Puff said Public Works Commissioner Norm Albert is working to rank roads according to their condition. He is also looking at when and where sewer and water department projects are going to be undertaken, to see if work could dovetail.

“We’re looking to get a good amount of deferred roadwork done,” Colbert Puff said.

Right now, the CIP committee is looking at two funding scenarios: One in which there is no additional cost to taxpayers as debt will be offset by the retirement of debt on two school projects; and one with an impact on the tax rate.

She said no final determination has been made as to the amount of the bond and that will be a key point of discussion when the CIP committee meets with the council Aug. 18.

She said the most that would be bonded is $5 million, which would require an increase on the tax rate.