Photo: Replacing the underground fuel tanks at the DPW Yard will cost half of what was estimated by a town consultant.
Some good news on a municipal project has presented a happy dilemma for Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin and the Select Board after nearly a cool million dollars landed in the town’s lap earlier this month.
With a litany of funding demands across the town’s budgetary spectrum – notably more than $500,000 of an anticipated debt facing the schools at the end of this fiscal year on June 30 – this surprise financial bonanza could provide needed relief to existing shortfalls or be used for some needed quick fixes.
The sizeable windfall revolves back to the highly controversial decision on the future of the fuel tanks at the DPW Yard. Despite evidence that above-ground tanks are safer and less expensive to maintain than those in the ground, Town Meeting rejected the funding for above-ground tanks as a few neighbors sought ecstatic relief and successfully convinced members of their argument.
Back to today, with the inground tanks having exceeded their useful life and the threat of contaminate leakage ever growing, the town last year put out a request for a proposal to replace the tanks. The estimated cost for the replacement tanks from the town’s engineering consultant came in at $1,904,266, funded by a Town Meeting appropriation of $650,000 with the remaining $1,254,266 from the $8.6 million the town received in the American Rescue Plan Act.
Last month, four offers came in with a low bid from Franklin-based Green Site Services Group. The accepted offer? $966,0000, nearly half the estimated cost.
Since the $908,266 bunce was not part of the funds allocated by the Town Meeting, the surplus will not be “clawed back” to the town’s free cash account but will be reallocated by the town.
Since the Select Board makes ARPA decisions, “so conceivably we could repurpose the money if we had to,” Board member Elizabeth Dionne asked.
“It would be a simple vote [of the Select Board],” said Garvin.
“We have some big capital needs coming up,” noted Dionne.
“I have some ideas,” said Garvin. When asked at the close of the meeting what the board’s priorities would be for the windfall, Garvin smiled and said she’d first have to let the Select Board see her recommendations before making it public.
As for the project, Department of Public Works Director Jay Marcotte said even though the funds are available now, the actual work on the tank replacement will begin in the spring of 2024 as the construction time frame will take up to eight months and it would not be advantageous to work through the winter months.