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Transfer station project to be done in phases with a higher cost

May 30, 2018
The transfer station project will cost closer to $1.2 million, with the town using money approved at last year's town meeting toward the building itself with the rest of the project on next year's warrant.

The board of selectmen voted unanimously to proceed this way with the renovation and expansion of the recycling facility after only receiving one higher than predicted bid and other factors.

Last March, voters approved a warrant article for $950,000 to renovate and expand the current solid waste facility to a full transfer station.

During last Wednesday's board meeting, Town Administrator Scott Dunn reported that the town had one bid for the project that came in at $1,127,700.

He said at the board's request, Solid Waste Supervisor Mike Donovan worked with Solid Waste Committee member and retired Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan to investigate whether the town could act as its own general contractor on this project, potentially saving some money. Dunn said Donovan and Morgan did a lot of investigating and meeting with contractors. They were unable to conclude if the staff had the capability of acting as a general contractor and. Additionally Dunn said the town was not in the position to say of the different proposals were direct, "apples-to-apples" comparisons with the project's bid specifications.

"We never came away with a good feeling that's a viable alternative," Dunn said.

The town went back to Meridian Construction and asked how the project could get started within budget. Dunn and selectman Richard Grenier, the chair of the Solid Waste Committee, worked with staff to pull out a number of different items in the project that could get done at a later time.

After these discussions, it was determined they could get the building alone for $838,100 and everything else including equipment, electrical, plumbing, and all other aspects could be covered with an additional $400,000 at a later time.

Dunn recommended that they start the building with the money that had been appropriated at the 2017 town meeting. The remaining $41,000 could be used for construction contingencies or to help offset the money that would be requested on next year's warrant.

They would come back to the 2019 town meeting asking for the remaining funds to be taken out of the surplus fund balance. Dunn emphasized that money would not be borrowed or come out of taxes.

The original design for the transfer station carried a projected pricetag of $1.7 million, which was opposed by a number of officials. The committee asked for a scaled back design, which went on the warrant for the $950,000.

"The figure that we needed was the figure that our engineers told us we would need in the beginning and for a variety of reasons we were optimistic that that could be scaled back and found out that that optimism was unfounded," Dunn said.

Grenier said while they had a good plan, he does not think much more of the design should be sacrificed. Grenier said they looked at grants, but they were not in the amounts they originally hoped. A number of grants required that the building be constructed first before they could apply. Grenier said this was discussed at a Solid Waste Committee meeting and everyone in that room agreed that this was the best direction to take.

Board chair Gus Benavides noted that the bottom line number will still be closer to $1.2 million, but still $500,000 less than the original design.

Grenier said in order to start this by winter they would want a decision from the board that night.

The selectmen unanimously approved a motion to award the contract with Meridian for $838,100 for the transfer station building. The motion stated this was done with the knowledge the town would have to come back to town meeting next year for the remaining amount of around $400,000, which would not be borrowed or come from taxes.

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