Sanford school projects bond OK’d for referendum

SANFORD – The budget referendum to be put before Sanford voters in June will also ask residents to consider a $1.5 million, 10-year bond for school capital improvement projects to make needed repairs and updates to school facilities throughout the district.

The City Council voted unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting to include the bond request on the June ballot.

The city’s Budget Committee had recommended that the bond be included at a budget presentation to the council on April 15. 

The capital investment would include new roofing, installation of energy efficient windows and upgrades to the heating, ventilation, electrical and lighting systems at a number of schools. The upgrades would result in increased efficiency that would significantly reduce the energy costs at school facilities, according to a consultant’s report.

Mark Powers, a representative from Trane, an energy service company that was contracted by the School Department to perform a systems study of school facilities, offered a presentation to the council on the potential savings.

“We know the buildings well and understand the needs,” said Powers. “We validated the savings from (a) 2009 report and have updated it to project current figures. The savings model is calculated. None of this is guesswork. It is all factual and scientifically based.”

Powers said the bond’s energy-savings work would essentially be self-funding in terms of the cost savings brought about by the upgrades, along with rebates from Efficiency Maine for increasing energy efficiency. 

Preliminary figures presented by Powers showed $109,000 in energy savings the first year, against an anticipated bond payment due of $72,000. Rebates from Efficiency Maine are estimated at $160,000.

According to Powers, Trane guarantees the savings projected as part of its contract with the school to oversee the project and will issue a shortfall check if cost savings are lower than estimated.

Deputy Mayor Maura Herhily said the bond would also pay for the roofing system at the high school, estimated at $750,000, and that all the other projects would be paid for with the savings.

“It is critical for us to get across to the public that we are asking you for $750,000, not $1.5 million because the savings cover at least half the cost, if not more, of the bond.”

Councilor Fred Smith said he thought the bond was a good idea.

“It will save annual maintenance costs every year. By bunching (projects) together now we avoid labor and material increases. By doing it all at once it’s a savings.”

Councilor Alan Walsh said he was also in favor of the bond and that while some may question work on buildings that may be sold in the future it was important to “protect the assets” of the city by doing needed repairs and not allowing further damage or decay.

City Manager Steve Buck said he is comfortable with Trane’s assessment, having worked with the company on a school project in the past.

“I can speak to (the Trane presentation) validity and am in favor of the performance guarantee that comes with this project.”

By keepmecurrent.com