ADAMS, Mass. — The Finance Committee approved a $33,000 reserve fund transfer that would square off the $198,000 needed to repair the CT Plunkett boiler room roof.
After the Selectmen approved the reserve fund transfer Wednesday, the Finance Committee made their vote Thursday to add $33,000 to the funds already allocated for the project.
"As we appropriated most of the money for this project we would like to go ahead and get it done," Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco said. "The total amount did come in a little more than we wanted but it did come in within our engineer’s estimates and about half of what the school district estimated."
The town of Adams pledged to repair the roof and ceiling, that is in disrepair, last year when both Adams and Cheshire discussed closing an elementary school in the Adams Cheshire Regional School District.
Mazzucco said $15,000 was needed for engineering which would bring the allocated amount to $165,000. Another $33,000 would bring the number back up to $198,000.
Mazzucco said the project was delayed because the original engineer the Adams Cheshire Regional School District hired said the project would cost near $400,000 which Mazzucco thought was too much.
Mazzucco said he will award the bid to Souliere & Zepka Construction and the project could be done before the close of the calendar year.
"It is not that complicated of a project once they get going and they are anxious to get going," he said. "It could be done before the end of the calendar year."
Finance Committee member Craig Corrigan asked if there was a way to take more control over the school district’s buildings.
"Can we do anything to take the maintenance away from the school," he said. "They are just not doing the job and they are letting these buildings go."
Mazzucco said the town has really stepped in and has a list of maintenance projects they want to take on.
"With these projects, we have a quarter million we are sinking into the school this year and next and we are going to do more," he said. "We started on a good path and we want to take care of the building because either way we own it."
Mazzucco said the town plans to fix the portico and replace the handicapped lift. He said the gym roof will also need to be fixed but that is a larger MSBA project.
"It takes some time but good work takes time," he said. "But come next year Plunkett will be looking pretty."
In other business, the Finance Committee voted to decrease the size of the committee from 15 members to 13 members.
"Fifteen is a very cumbersome number and it is difficult to call meetings and get training," he said. "Fifteen is a little bit absurd and you never see boards that size and we are getting smaller."
Mazzucco said he thought nine would be a better number but the Finance Committee agreed that to start they wanted to just drop the number down to current enrolment. Currently, there are two open seats on the committee.
Mazzucco said if they want to further decrease the size they can craft a bylaw that would shrink the committee by attrition. When someone decides they do not want to be reappointed, the moderator simply does not reappoint a new member.
Some of the Finance Committee members felt lowering the number of seats at the table would diminish discussion and representation.
"We are really like the financial conscious of the town and the last place to stop anything is town meeting," member John Cowie said. "We are just going to limit those debates."
Mazzucco said other important boards in town operate with five to seven members and have a robust discussion. He added that a 15 member board has never stopped financial issues in town.
"When you look at some of the challenges we have had over the years…has the 15 member financial committee prevented any of that?" he said. "The truth of the matter is no. In 2002 we had $2.5 million in the bank and two years ago we were down to $200,000 in the bank."
Mazzucco said he also wants to revamp the "job description" of the committee so volunteers know what is expected of them and what kind of training they have to participate in. He added that the town will be more aggressive in seeking membership.
Moderator Myra Wilk said she has found little interest in volunteerism when looking for new appointees and said she liked the idea of stronger advertising.
She also asked if they could also create a new policy that would allow her to remove members who are not pulling their weight on the committee.
"How many meetings does it take before you have a nonmember?" she asked. "Even if you reduce to 13 and you have sitting members that don’t show up you will be at a loss."
Mazzucco said the Finance Committee can create a subcommittee to sort out a policy.
Mazzucco added that there will be a lot of changes in town and the Finance Committee is a good place to start.
The committee approved the decrease with a 6-2 vote however town meeting would still have to approve the bylaw change.
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