SHIRLEY -- After facility management-services provider ABM Building Solutions representatives Robert Reddish and David O'Brien offered a presentation on what Shirley Finance Committee Chairman Frank Kolarik later termed the most comprehensive energy audit of town buildings Shirley has ever had, most Shirley Finance Committee members voted to abstain or vote against approval of the town Energy Committee's recommendation to move forward with a 15-year contract with the company.
The vote, however, was likely just a temporary move, as the committee awaits a document from Town Treasurer Kevin Johnston that reconfigures the program costs if the town chooses to not pay ABM for performance services after the first three years.
The detailed Town of Shirley Energy and Facility Improvement Plan presented by Reddish and O'Brien was a repeat of their presentation at last week's selectmen's meeting, but with ample time for Finance Committee members to ask detailed questions.
The plan includes the Shirley Town Offices, Hazen Memorial Library, Shirley police and fire department buildings, Department of Public Works, War Memorial Building, Senior Center and Shirley's 209 street lights.
The goal of the program, said Shirley Energy Committee Chairman Bryan Dumont, was to provide a program at zero cost to the town that complies with MGL Ch. 25A, Div. of Energy Resources, Section 10, which dictates how municipalities may obtain and maintain their green-community status.
The program meets the mandate of reducing the town's energy consumption by at least 20 percent, is cost-neutral, and could save the town as much as $245,000 over 15 years, but at the very least, according to ABM, would provide the town with at least two fuel switches from oil to natural gas.
Other improvements in the town buildings include retrofitting lighting, insulation, weatherization, HVAC equipment upgrades, and in the case of the senior-center building, central-air conditioning.
Also cited as benefits are increased comfort levels, a reduction in reactive maintenance, tighter budgetary controls and increased safety.
Some of the questions and issues the Finance Committee raised included the possibility of separating out an energy line in departmental budgets so that the individual budgets are not reduced; how a change in building usage would affect the contract; whether the town should include the War Memorial Building as part of the contract, since it is being leased; whether it is an energy-savings or capital plan; and, whether there would really be savings in maintenance if the town is also paying ABM for performance services.
"We want a picture that is as close to the reality we think is going to happen, which would be to do maintenance with some kind of maintenance contract," said Finance Committee Vice Chairman Mike Swanton.
"For the first three years we have to do maintenance and performance services. After those three years we can stop the performance services to maybe every five years and that money may go toward the service agreement.
"The annual cost flow would change," he said, in explaining why he would like to see the spreadsheet with the performance service costs shifted after the first three years. "We would not reallocate all of the maintenance money. It would be crazy not to do maintenance," he added.
The question, he said, is "Should we include a maintenance agreement or use it as an annual budget item instead of funding it through this program? We want to show a full picture of what this is going to cost and the full energy costs moving forward."
Once the Finance Committee receives the adjusted spreadsheet from Johnston and hears from selectmen on the issue at their July 1 meeting, it will take another vote.
Dumont and Johnston, who also serves on the energy committee, urged the Finance Committee to consider that rising interest rates, construction costs and energy costs could remove some of the savings if a decision is not made soon.
Town Clerk Amy McDougall reminded those present that for the town to vote on the issue at a July 22 Town Meeting, the warrant must be signed by July 8.