City officials discuss building maintenance funding in Massachusetts

City officials discuss building maintenance funding in Massachusetts

Selectmen in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, recently analyzed a report that detailed the exact conditions of buildings throughout town, and are now developing a plan to fund new asset maintenance programs and other significant repairs.

According to the MetroWest Daily News, Hopkinton's Permanent Building Committee recently finished a report that showed which building assets were currently failing to meet the town's needs. The Center School, the library and the Department of Public Works were all found to be in varying states of disrepair, and when combined with eight other structures analyzed in the report, the price tag of maintenance costs rose to $2.57 million. The proposed maintenance project will span two years.

Inspectors stated that the Elmwood School needs a new roof, which would cost about $1.4 million, one of the largest proposed maintenance projects. The issue will be discussed at an upcoming town meeting, and is expected to be described as the highest priority.

All potential projects will be discussed by selectmen as part of the Town Asset Management Plan, which will be a part of meetings throughout 2013.

"This is something of roadmap going forward," said Selectman Brian Herr. "Specific items and projects will all stand on their own merit."

Christopher Ketchen, the town's financial planner, said the municipality could pay for the renovations in any number of ways.

"We can incorporate building maintenance into a pay as you go capital plan with an $800,000 a year reinvestment rate a year," Ketchen said. "We plan to redeploy debt service runoff to fund building maintenance starting in fiscal year 2015."

The best possibility for new funds that can be allocated toward the repair projects could come from debt service declines, which could help the town save as much as $1 million by fiscal year 2016 – a solid chunk of the proposed maintenance costs.

Selectman Michelle Gates said that with any luck the savings could be passed on to the taxpayers, who will undoubtedly help fund the project. Chairman Ben Palleiko agreed with Gates' sentiments.

"This will bake into budget pools of money to be used on an annual basis to maintain and enhance these facilities as a preventative maintenance budget," he said.

According to the news source, a final funding plan will be drafted by early spring, and proposed to officials at the annual Town Meeting shortly after. The report and proposed asset management plan will be developed after years of putting maintenance aside due to costs.

"I think we’re on a great path to help explain where we’re heading with various challenges the town faces," Herr said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) construction regulations, which include all renovation and repair operations, outline how contractors should go about performing such projects, and the rules to keep in mind when performing any maintenance project. 

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