Royalston Selectmen approve last-minute change to elevator project  

  • Royalston’s Selectboard met Saturday to approve a change order for the elevator project at Town Hall. From left —Board Chair Deb D’Amico, member Chris Long, DPW Director Keith Newton, and Administrator Kevin Flynn. Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 11/18/2019 9:55:13 PM
Modified: 11/18/2019 9:55:08 PM

ROYALSTON – The town’s Selectboard met in a rare weekend session Saturday morning to approve a change order regarding the elevator which is being installed at the rear of Town Hall. The change was necessary to accommodate the laying of four electrical conduits between a utility pole on the street and the building.

The main issue Selectboard members had to grapple with was how to pay for the change order. The cost of the work was pegged at just over $13,000, but it turned out there was only $2,100 left from Royalston’s share of an $831,000 Community Development Block Grant the town had received from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. The grant was split with the town of Phillipston, which is installing a wheelchair lift at its town hall. Terms of the grant require the project to be completed before the first of the new year.

“So, how are we funding this?” asked board Chair Deb D’Amico.

“That’s what I want to know,” said member Roland Hamel. “We need to come up with $10,824.”

Board member Christine Long said she had checked about the possibility of taking the cash from either the Public Works Department or Public Halls budgets. Hamel said the town “can’t keep raiding the DPW budget.”

Long noted that only $20,000 remains in the reserve fund. Long said, “It’s conceivable that between now and the annual town meeting we might need to hold a special to get the money to replenish whichever budget we raid to get this money from. We can’t take money directly from the reserve fund. We have to take that request to the Finance Committee.”

The thought then occurred to Long that provision has been made for using reserve fund monies for “unanticipated” expenses with the approval of the FinCom, and without the need to first get town meeting approval.

“And we certainly didn’t anticipate an additional $10,000 needed for the elevator,” said Long.

“I’d rather do that,” said Hamel, “than take it from DPW. Pretty soon, (DPW Director Keith Newton) is going to walk in here for something and he isn’t going to have any money.”

D’Amico wanted it clear that it is an unanticipated expense, which does not require town meeting approval.

“Well,” said Long, “we may need to eventually go to town meeting to replenish the reserve fund, but we can go to the reserve fund now without raiding a budget. We need to go to (Town Accountant) Lori (Bolasevich) first, because she’s the one who rules on this sort of thing. But I think there’s no question that this is an unanticipated expense.”

Grant administrator Kevin Flynn asked if there was money available somewhere in the town budget should the Finance Committee turn down the board’s request. Long replied they would consider the original proposal of taking the cash out of another account, most likely Public Buildings.

The motion to approve the change order, made by Hamel, was approved unanimously.

The subcontractor who will undertake the laying of the conduits, Sacca Electric of Hudson, New Hampshire, had hoped to start work on Monday of this week. However, due to the possibility of inclement weather through Wednesday, Newton said it would be Thursday before he would have a crew available to dig the necessary trench from the street to Town Hall.

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