Voters will decide on $5 million in bonded capital projects

Citizens at the Annual Town Meeting on May 2 will be asked to share their opinion on more than $5 million in bonded capital projects for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The meeting will adjourn to a town vote on May 6.

At the top of the list of capital projects is a move to speed up the repair of town roads. A total of $2.8 million is being requested for road repaving, which makes it the largest capital expenditure of the year.

The reason is simple.

“The No. 1 complaint I receive is about the roads,” said First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice, speaking about the capital projects at the public hearing on the budget March 27 at Middlebrook School.

“If you drive, you know how bad they are,” she said.

The town will up its repair schedule to 15 miles per road per year, rather than the current 10 miles, and bond the money over 10 years to keep on that repair cycle.

The next highest expense for capital bonding is for the study of the police station, and coming up with a plan for a new one that can be brought back to the public for a vote at a town meeting.

About $1.3 million is asked for that purpose, which represents about 10% of the total project.

“It is built for 27 officers, and we have a staff of 45 officers, so it is extremely tight,” Vanderslice said of the current police station.

The rehabilitation of the tennis courts at the high school and at Middlebrook school comes to $750,000.

“We want to pull out what’s there because there are big cracks, so we need to rip it up and do it right,” Vanderslice said.

Also, the Board of Education headquarters building needs a roof, and Middlebrook needs an elevator. Those two projects come to $200,000, or $100,000 each, for fiscal year 2018. The money is too much for one year so over five years’ time it adds up to $1.6 million for the roof.

The bus barn paving is also in need of replacement, Vanderslice said, because it has long been neglected, so money is needed to do that as well as install lights. That will come to $50,000. That is only the first year of spending on a multi-year project, ultimately totaling $450,000.

Selling municipal bonds on the bond market is the town’s way of borrowing money. The interest rate the town pays to borrow is determined by its credit rating, which in this case is AAA. The town repays the loan with interest over a period of years.