Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

February 7, 2013

Town: No good alternative to spending $5.7M

Since the budget gap on the Bancroft Elementary School project was first announced last November, residents have offered their own solutions for how the town can solve the issue without spending more money.

Here are some of the more popular suggestions, and why town officials including School Building Committee members say they are not pursuing them.

USE CONTINGENCY MONEY

The $44 million project includes several million dollars in four different contingency accounts. As it stands, the project has over $2 million in contingency money, and the $5.7 million will add additional contingency cash. But the committee can’t use any of this to trim the costs of the project.

Contingency money is for unexpected problems, such as finding a gas tank buried in the ground that must be removed. The state says it is not meant to cover price fluctuations, said Deso.

“If we had used that to fund an estimated shortfall, it would not have been reimbursible by (the Massachusetts School Building Authority),” committee Chairman Tom Deso said. “They expect the contingency to be used only if it needs to be, and only to be used for construction items.”

The state is paying for 44 percent of the original $44 million project.

“If we come across some situations in the existing school that, despite all the testing, we find something that has to be done differently, that would be a contingency item,” Deso said. “If everybody left the site on a Friday night and came back Monday morning and something had happened, part of a wall came down, some situation, and you couldn’t determine how that happened, we’d still have to redo that. We’d have to fix it.”

There’s a chance that there will be contingency money remaining at the end of the project, Deso said, which would reduce the amount the town has to borrow.

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