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Selectmen Sign Warrant for Special Town Meeting

On Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen officially set the upcoming special Town Meeting for Monday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will address the Bridge and Bowman school reconstruction projects.

A day after the School Committee formally requested a to address , the Board of Selectmen signed the warrant, officially setting the meeting for Monday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m.

The selectmen did so at Wednesday evening’s “Budget Collaboration – Financial Summit 1,” the first in a series of meetings where the Selectmen, School Committee, Capital Expenditures Committee and Appropriation Committee come together with town and school officials to discuss the upcoming budget process and overall financial climate of the town.

Although no specific dollar amount will be used in the warrant question – Town Meeting members will only be asked if they want to fund the project – the total cost of the project was estimated at $22,141,000 Wednesday, an increase of roughly $2.8 million from its initial estimate of $19,370,000 this past spring.

The overall estimated project increase reflected projected increases in the project’s phasing allowance ($1.1 million), market conditions ($850,000), design detail ($500,000) and code requirements ($300,000), according to Pat Goddard, the town’s director of facilities.

If approved, the project’s construction would begin in April 2012, Goddard revealed Wednesday.

Crews would then double-up over the summer and continue working until November 2012. They would then scale back construction over the winter and pick it up again in the spring, with the intention of finishing the project in the fall of 2013, he said.

The main component of the project discussed at Wednesday’s meeting was the addition of four classrooms at each school. The classrooms are needed to better implement the district’s programming, Superintendent Paul Ash said. He said the schools are cramped when it comes to small-group space.

“What these projects do is they produce the space to deliver these programs at a higher level,” he said.

There are also many other facets to the project, including a new roof at .

The warrant also includes an article that asks Town Meeting members to spend money to upgrade the town’s “fire communication system.” However, that article was not detailed at Wednesday’s meeting.

Other business

The warrant does not include a petitioner’s article involving , as had been rumored. The reconstruction project is also absent from the warrant, as it will be taken up by Town Meeting at a later date, most likely sometime in January.

The portion of the meeting regarding the town’s financial climate and fiscal year 2013 budget process was kept fairly brief, as it’s still early in the process and members wanted to focus more on the school reconstruction projects.

Town Manager Carl Valente did highlight four policy issues that will impact next year’s budget – the new health insurance for town employees and retirees, the town’s collective bargaining agreements, the property tax impact of the school reconstruction projects and the long-term financing plan for street improvements and reconstruction.

Overall, he did say the town is in good financial standing, especially given the nation’s recent economic downtown.

The second budget meeting, “Budget Collaboration – Financial Summit 2,” will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, back at the building.

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