First Selectman Melissa M. Mack shared the following letter regarding the Bridge Street School Community Project with the Board of Finance at its September 13th meeting. The letter was forwarded in advance of the meeting to the Board of Selectmen. Going forward, First Selectman Mack plans to work closely with the Parks & Recreation Commission which dedicates itself to continually enhancing the programs and activities offered to Suffield’s citizens. Ongoing efforts will include addressing the needs outlined by the 2015 Ad Hoc Committee in an economically feasible and sustainable approach.
Good Afternoon Selectmen,
I have been giving a lot of thought to the BSSCC project and wanted to give you an update.
I have asked Joe Sangiovanni to address the Board of Finance this evening regarding the status of the RFP results for the BSSCC Project. At this point, we are going to have to expend between $350,000 and $500,000 to perform enough work to get an estimate to determine whether the project can be built as approved by the town. As you know, there is no money appropriated in the 17/18 budget for this expenditure. Moreover, until we have an approved budget by the State of Connecticut, it would be irresponsible to expend this amount from fund balance. Accordingly, I am notifying the Board of Finance tonight that I will not sign a contract on the BSSCC project at this time.
The BSSCC bond authorization provides that “the costs of the project may be paid from temporary advances of available funds that the Town reasonably expects to reimburse any such advances from the proceeds of borrowings…”. The Bond Authorization further authorizes the First Selectman to “execute and deliver in the name of the Town any grant or other agreements and other documents for the project.” One of the proposals received by the Department of Public Works states that an $8.4 million budget would only allow them to build a 2,000 square foot gym. As you know, the plan calls for an 8,200 square foot gym. Based on this estimate and the conceptual estimate from Gilbane of $9,928,700 a year ago, I cannot represent that the Town reasonably expects to issue the bond or be reimbursed from the proceeds of borrowings. Therefore, I cannot, in good conscious, sign a contract to spend more money on this project.
In addition, I also have concern about the additional staffing the building will require. Any staff increase is an impossibility at this point and not likely to change over the next several years. While I am committed to addressing the town amenities issues identified by the Ad Hoc Committee in 2015, we need to do this in way that is sustainable for the Town in the long term. I believe that we can be creative and fiscally responsible by better taking advantage of the underutilized assets in town, including our beautiful Senior Center.
I understand how hard people have worked on this project and I very much appreciate it. Please know that this decision has weighed heavily on me. However, I cannot in good conscience suggest that we move forward at this time with the current budget situation in our state and the black cloud of layoffs looming over the Town. I cannot on one hand direct Town departments to find cost savings in their budget of 10% across the board AND at the same time direct those very same staff people to watch time and money spent on a project that they know cannot be completed at the amount authorized.
I suspect there will be much discussion on this issue, but I wanted to clearly articulate my position to you as I intend to do tonight at the Board of Finance. I plan to share this information with all stakeholders including the residents once the Board of Finance has had the opportunity to weigh in.
Melissa M. Mack
Town of Suffield
83 Mountain Road
Suffield, Connecticut 06078
Telephone (860) 668-3838
Facsimile (860) 668-3898