The Board of Education's request for $901,467 to extend warranties on school roofs, which also would include an analysis of the roofs' conditions and repairs, hit a snag at the Board of Finance Tuesday night.
Thomas Flynn, the board's chairman, said a bonding resolution wasn't provided to his board nor was a written report from the Town Facilities Commission. Flynn said it also wasn't clear whether the Board of Selectmen had approved the funding request on May 4.
"It's unclear to me if it should go to both the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance or whether the Board of Selectmen actually passed the item," Flynn said during Tuesday night's finance board meeting in the Education Center, 501 Kings Highway East. "The bond resolution is not yet drafted. In order to give this a fair hearing, more information is required."
Flynn said he specifically wanted to know the intent of First Selectman Sherri Steeneck and Selectman James Walsh in voting to approve the request and what the Town Facilities Commission thinks of the school board's request.
The agenda item before Steeneck and Walsh on May 4 was: "To hear, consider and act upon a request from the Board of Education to fund a multi-year roof warranty program for school roofs and to consider a special bond appropriation for such program."
Minutes of the selectmen's May 4 meeting state: "First Selectman Steeneck made a motion to approve the item and send it to the TFC and BOF. Selectman Walsh seconded the motion which carried 2-0."
In addition to confusion over the selectmen's intent and the lack of a bonding resolution and report from the TFC, Flynn said the town was likely to have a new first selectman after a special election at 7 p.m. Thursday in McKinley School and town officials planned to have a capital planning workshop later this summer as well.
"It's important we don't pass along, or contemplate passing along, a potentially $1 million item," Flynn said.
Steeneck said the selectmen reviewed the agenda item at their last meeting, though the May 4 minutes state that the selectmen approved the item on that date. Steeneck said school officials had told the Board of Selectmen they "needed to get this work done this summer" and that she and Walsh suggested it go to the Town Facilities Commission, a volunteer group of building professionals, for review before the Board of Finance voted on it.
Steeneck said she figured if the selectmen approved the request and sent it to the Town Facilities Commission, the Board of Finance could hear TFC members' thoughts before voting and time wouldn't be lost.
But Christopher DeWitt, the finance board's secretary, said not enough time existed to do the roof work this summer. "We'll never get this done in the summer," DeWitt said, adding that the Board of Finance should at least wait until the TFC issues its report on the school board's request.
Town Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller said the report may be issued in about two weeks. "The opportunity to get this done [this summer] passed us about 60 days ago," Hiller said, noting that the funding request, if approved by the Representative Town Meeting, would be hanging for two weeks until the deadline for a referendum challenge passed and then would be subject to bidding.
Board of Finance member Michael Tetreau, who likely will take over as first selectman Thursday night or Friday morning, said, "It's difficult to do without a bonding resolution."
DeWitt said the Board of Education should have mentioned the $901,467 request to extend roof warranties and analyze and repair roofs during the 2011-12 budget process. DeWitt thought the request should have been included as a capital project in the Board of Education's budget, rather than as a stand-alone funding request after next fiscal year's budget already was approved.
Schools covered in the request are Holland Hill School, North Stratfield School, Osborn Hill School, Riverfield School and Roger Sherman School. The $901,467 would cover five-year extensions on the roof warranties, but the town first would have to fund an analysis of the roofs' conditions through an infrared thermal scan, make repairs and then analyze the roofs' conditions after the repairs to quality for the extensions. The warranties also wouldn't cover all of the roofs on the five elementary schools.
Thomas Cullen, the school district's director of operations, told the selectmen May 4 that the school district hoped to get another 10 years of life out of the roofs, and Walsh at the May 4 meeting said an analysis by the Board of Education stated that the warranty extension and another 10 years of life on the roofs would cost 20 percent of what new roofs would cost.
On Tuesday night, Hiller said it was "a little bit of a misnomer" to describe the $901,467 funding request as a roof warranty project since it also involved an analysis of roofs and repair work on roofs. "The biggest chunk of the money is a maintenance program," Hiller said.
Kevin Kiley, a Board of Finance member, asked Tuesday night that the funding request clearly identify amounts of money related to construction, maintenance and warranty extensions.
After about 30 minutes of discussion, the Board of Finance decided to postpone its vote on the school board's request until July 27.