By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the town’s fiscal year 2022 operating budget, Town Manager Michael Borg is asking that nearly $12 worth of capital improvement projects be included.
The proposal was discussed at the Town Council’s hybrid meeting on Monday, April 12. The town has already completed or is in the process of doing so for $9.5 million worth of projects, including the new roof of the Community School, Chestnut Street Bridge, new water mains, and energy-efficient LED lighting.
The list of projects that Borg wishes to include in the budget is lengthy, and ranges from vehicle repairs to updating recreational sites. Below is an list of some of the projects
- Replacing town vehicles with electric or hybrid models
- Expanding Department of Public Works holdings
- Repairs to the Falls Pond Dam, recommended for some time
- A leaf vacuum vehicle, which would help keep catch basins cleared
- Replacing the ladder and pumper truck for the fire department
- Repairing the gazebo on the Town Common
- Replacing the bleachers and track at North Attleborough High School
Borg said that these projects need to be done, citing the two fire department vehicles as examples. Both have well over 100,000 miles each. He said that if these projects are held off, the cost can increase by as much as four times.
“One of the things I wish to avoid is deferred maintenance,” he said at the meeting.
Of the total cost, $2 million could be paid for from Free Cash, $500,000 from retained earnings, and the rest through bonding. The town is in a good position for seeking bonds, with interest rates at record lows.
“Borrowing is very inexpensive for North Attleborough,” said Borg. “We just went to the bond market and secured nearly $6 million for 1.24 percent interest.”
This list is just a fraction of the 150 capital projects included in a new five-year plan that the town recently unveiled. All told, it amounts to more than $60 million worth of new vehicles, improvements to town buildings, and much more.
The proposed budget of $98.7 million is around $3 million higher than last year. Estimated revenues are expected to be only $96.5 million. The budget will be reviewed in-depth over the next month by the Finance Subcommittee and return to the council for a final vote in June.
In his presentation, Borg listed a number of new or ongoing developments in town. This includes the new Hampton Inn receiving a certificate of occupancy, the apartment complex at 21 East St. taking applications, and Balise Auto Group nearing completion. In addition, the retail marijuana store proposed by Holland Brands on Route 1 could be open this year. It is one of three marijuana stores to be located in North Attleborough.
North Attleborough has already received considerable funds from the CARES Act and FEMA to handle unexpected COVID-related expenses. Recently, the town learned it would soon receive $2.9 million from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.2 trillion plan signed by President Joe Biden in March. How the money can be used is not yet fully known. The schools are set to receive more than $4 million through the plan.
“It will support their (the school’s) operations as well,” said Borg.
Borg said that overall, the town has done well, especially compared to other communities. No overrides are being sought, and the hiring and spending freezes put into place last year have been lifted. Among the new hires being pursued are for the North Attleborough Fire Department.
Borg hopes to bring more funding to the schools, which are still battling a deficit of $1.8 million, and he wants the town to have a seat at the table when the Emerald Square Mall is sold.
“We are in a great position,” said Borg. “We are doing really well and coming out of COVID far better than I expected.”