TOWNSEND -- With about $200,000 available for capital projects in fiscal 2015, the town's Capital Planning Committee began its review process last Thursday by hearing more than $400,000 worth of requests for those funds.
In its first round of capital-request meetings, the committee heard from representatives of selectmen and the highway department.
Town administrator Andrew Sheehan made two requests on behalf of selectmen -- a $15,000 project to replace the lock and key system at Town Hall with swipe cards or key fobs, and a $98,500 project to replace the building's air-conditioning units.
The key fob request is for fiscal 2015, while the air-conditioning is being considered for fiscal 2016.
Sheehan said the key fobs would address security issues at Town Hall.
"In the 15 years this building has been open since the renovations, keys have been made and distributed pretty loosely, copies have been made and employees leave and we don't know who has them. This all obviously creates security concerns and liability concerns for us," Sheehan said.
The air-conditioning replacement is needed for units that are beginning to fail.
"We wouldn't have any objection to splitting this up over a number of years, but we're starting to have problems with some of the condensing units so we want to start to move forward," Sheehan said.
Highway Superintendent Ed Kukkula put in $400,000 worth of requests for fiscal 2015, including $150,000 for road paving and maintenance expenses that aren't covered by state Chapter 90 funding.
Kukkula said his top priority among his six requests for next year is a dump truck with plow and sander that would replace a 28-year-old truck that is still being used.
His other requests included fuel pumps, another dump truck and two electronic message boards.
The committee will be meeting with the Police and Fire Departments in the coming weeks to hear their requests.
The group also discussed revising the evaluation policy that it uses to rank capital requests. The current policy requires committee members to assign numbers to projects based on factors such as their impact on public safety, longevity and cost-saving. The projects that receive the highest scores are funded.
Sheehan suggested the weighting of the criteria to not be so stringent to allow members to rank the options based on what makes sense.
"You're all brought on to the committee because you bring different skill sets and assets to the table, and those should be allowed to thrive," Sheehan said.
Committee Chairman Lorna Fredd recommended adding another question to the rating policy which would allow committee members to rank the project by priority, but cautioned against moving too far away from the existing policy.
"You're not going to have any justification you can point to. It's too subjective," Fredd said.
The committee's current policy is based directly on one designed by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, member Carolyn Smart said.
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