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Board Approves $227K In Hopes Of Getting Millions

School Building Committee Approves $227k To Potentially Save Millions On High School Renovation

Thursday night, the School Building Committee unanimously approved a $227,450 proposal by JCJ Architecture to do extra work to possibly gain millions more dollars in state funding.

Wednesday night, the state legislature approved a bill put forth by Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, and Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, which qualifies the renovation - part of the high school project – roughly $15 million - as renovate-as-new status. This could allow the town to receive 31 percent reimbursement on that section of the project, meaning the town could receive millions of more dollars from the state.

However, to qualify for renovate-as-new status, the project’s architect, JCJ Architecture, has to produce a large amount of documentation on the project, according to Greg Smolley of JCJ. The unexpected hours of compiling that documentation will cost $227,450, according to Smolley.

“That is a lot of money,” School Building Committee member Jody Nazarchyk said after Smolley’s presentation.

“Yeah, but the return on investment is well worth the investment,” School Buildings and Grounds Director Jay Miner said.

Fuller Explanation

When the town approved the $67 million project to renovate the high school, the state agreed to reimburse the new construction associated with the project at 65 percent. However, the town paid for the renovation of the existing high school with its own money, roughly a $15 million total.

Now, the town is trying to retroactively apply for state reimbursement on that $15 million total. Special legislation passed by the state on Wednesday will allow Waterford to do that, according to Superintendent Jerome Belair.

However, to get 31 percent in state reimbursement the town has to apply for renovate-as-new status for the renovations, a funding status defined by the state government. To do that, the town has to submit plans and other documentation, Smolley said.

Then, on June 4, the town will meet with the state to see which parts of the renovation will qualify as renovate-as-new status. Smolley didn’t guarantee anything, but said he was very confident he could get most of the work as renovate-as-new status.

If the work does qualify, the town could receive more than $4 million in state funding, Smolley said.

“The most important part is we get approval,” Belair said. “We can’t go through all of this and not get approval.”

Carol May 11, 2012 at 11:32 AM
YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING??????? Renovations? It looks like mostly a NEW SCHOOL to me.
BJ May 11, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Spend, spend, spend. Have they no shame? Have they no restraint? Have they no brains? The $200,000,000.00 project was criminal when proposed, and no one stopped them; and now they openly flaunt their ability to get away with whatever they want. The question now is: Voters, do you care?
Cheryl L May 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM
And this does not change the scope of the project how? Will this result in any added use of contingency? Contingency is contingency for unknows, it is not money added to a project to pay for things, that in retrospect should have planned for and projected on day one. If this should have been renovate as new project in the beginning it should have been presented that way. Unfortunately this project, under the sloppy direction of this architect is turning out just as we all should have anticipated when the architect was chosen. Just gaze across the parking lot at the Community Center and The Friendship School. The SBC and the architect owe the Town Boards that voted on this project a line by line comparison of the funds approved and what those numbers will be after this new approval, if it is received. Man, was I blinded by the thought of a high school that was not dark, dreary, and bleak; that was conducive to learning, a place where our stundents could look forward to spending many hours a day in. Just because there is more money available doesn't mean we spend more. What happened to the argument that I have heard ad nauseum for the last four months . . . "just because its state tax money instead of town funds, doesn't mean its not taxes we are paying?" Feeling totally and completely sold down the river.
Waterford Rez May 11, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Paul, You were very exact in the cost, $227,450. Could you find/give us the exact savings the town would get? Would that savings go back into the general fund? (guessing the contingency fund first). Potentially how soon? Also, how did they come up with $227,450 just to document things? Even at $100 an hour, that is 2274 man hours, which is over a full year of employment for one person. In other words, that seams like a lot of man-hours just to document specific things. Finally, will it be "all or nothing"? Could the town receive 500k?, 800k? 2 million? I ask because it stated "could receive...". Even if it is only 500k, it is still a good investment. Sorry for all the questions, this is a big story. Thanks
Ron May 11, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Will the monies reaped from the "revised architectural documentation effort " designed with the singular purpose to charge CT taxpayers more for the Waterford educational system, be used to expand the "heterogenous education approach " goal of mediocrity for all ? Rather than the town and its elected representatives devising creative ways of diverting money, you may want to take the same time and effort to giving the best education experience to your students rather than endorse and mandate the politically correct heterogenous approach to mediocrity.
Paul Petrone (Editor) May 11, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Thanks for the questions, I'll take them one at a time. First, it isn't all or nothing. That is why there is no specific dollar amount. They will basically have to battle with the state to show what work counts and what work won't. It is almost a guarantee that the town will get some money back, it is a matter of how much. That figured has not yet been determined but best case is $4 million plus (although probably more likely in the $2 million or $3 million range). I believe it would come out of the extra money not yet expended on the project, if that is from the contingency account I'm not sure. It will not come out of the general fund because the overall total is still much less than the approved $67 million. And as far as the hours, honestly Greg Smolley said last night it was mainly busy work. I will look for the specific breakdown. It was just approved last night and they only have until June 4, so there is only a certain amount of hours there.
Waterford Guy May 11, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Spending more local property tax dollars now, so you can get more income tax dollars from the state is not an "investment" by any stretch of the imagination. Call it what it is, more town spending to justify more state spending in the name of "public good".
John Sheehan May 11, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I was surprised to learn that the work on the Auditorium, swimming pool, and "new gym" were not initially at a "renovate as new" status. That category provides the town with the maximum support from the state. The money received from the state will reduce the amount the town will have to bond to pay off the project. A four million dollar reduction in the amount of bonding is significant. None of this money will be seen in the general fund nor in the capital non recurring expenditure funds. It will just reduce the dollars bonded at the end of the project. I understand why the SBC decided to take this approach but am disappointed that it did not occur earlier (like when we were considering the project back in 2007.

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