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Select Board calls for Special Town Meeting to request additional funding for key town projects

by | Mar 13, 2024 | Featured: News, News, Police & Fire

Hopkinton Fire Chief Gary Daugherty Jr. and Town Engineer/Facilities Director Dave Daltorio appeared jointly before the Select Board on Tuesday night to request that a Special Town Meeting be held within the May 6 Annual Town Meeting because of budgetary shortfalls for two Hopkinton Fire Department projects and an unexpected Highway Department truck replacement.

Town Manager Norman Khumalo explained that two Fire Department projects previously were approved at Town Meeting and were put out to bid, but the bids received vastly exceeded the appropriated funds.

The HVAC system upgrade for the main fire station was approved at the 2017 ATM for $525,000. It received a subsequent approval for an additional $252,000 at the 2022 ATM. A project bid received in 2023 was for $1,088,000.

Daltorio explained that the first time this project was ready to go out to bid, the pandemic struck. In 2021, a bid was received for about $570,000, but that didn’t include design and other fees of about $200,000. It was rebid in March 2023 and now costs almost double the initial amount.

“It is important to note that … it was the same bid documents,” he said. “The same contractors bid on the project.”

The bid of $1.1 million “really caught everyone by surprise,” according to Daltorio. The project is almost ready to rebid, this time with a 15% increase in the amount to address contingencies. Bids should be received before the STM.

He added that a state grant of $300,000 will be extended through 2025 to help with the cost. But the shortfall is expected to be about $305,000.

“Some of the reasons this is so expensive is that they have to do some structural work [on the roof],” Daugherty said. “The size of the units do not fit in the footprint, so they have to do some steelwork and welding.”

For the second project, $70,000 was appropriated at last year’s STM for design services for the Woodville Fire Station. The bid results came in two weeks ago at $535,000. Daltorio said the shortfall is about $330,000.

“I’m just trying to do the shell of the building — the roof, windows and doors,” Daugherty said.

While the station is not currently staffed, two new fire trucks are being stored there.

Thirdly, Khumalo said he was notified earlier in the day that a Highway Department truck caught fire. Town Meeting will need to vote to appropriate funds to replace it. While a new truck will cost approximately $122,000, he said the insurance will only pay the town $74,000.

The potential source for funding for all three projects is free cash.

Because the STM opening of the warrant was not on the agenda, the board voted 4-0 to meet briefly on March 19 for the vote, with vice chair Shahidul Mannan absent. The March 19 agenda will be moved to March 26.

Moms Demand Action chapter presents Be SMART gun safety information

Members of the Hopkinton chapter of Moms Demand Action presented the board with information on safe firearms storage in the hope of preventing unintentional accidents and gun access by young people.

Kerri Connors explained that she and her colleagues are volunteers with Be SMART for Kids, a campaign launched in 2015 with the grassroots group Everytown For Gun Safety to prevent child gun deaths and promote gun safety. They lobbied the Select Board for support and to spread their message.

“Our sincere will is to raise awareness and action in local communities for evidence-based strategies that work,” she said, noting that this presentation focused on child and teen safety.

She spoke about the rise in school shootings such as the one in Uvalde, Texas, in 2022. In addition, incidents of gun possession in Massachusetts schools show that there is potential for an incident closer due to the popularity of TikTok challenges.

Said Connors: “Massachusetts is not immune to gun violence.”

The group has been reaching out over the past couple of years to the Police Department, the Board of Health and the Department of Youth & Family Services. It intends to appear before the School Committee to request passage of a secure storage notification resolution.

Chair Muriel Kramer said a joint resolution between the Select Board and the School Committee would be more effective. The group offered to give the board templates from which they can model their document.

HPD moves forward with lieutenant promotion, deputy chief hiring processes

Kramer read information provided by Hopkinton Police Chief Joseph Bennett regarding the hiring process for a deputy chief and the promotion of an officer to lieutenant. A consultant has been working with HPD to facilitate these processes.

An updated deputy chief job description was forwarded to the town’s Human Resources Department. The position was to be posted March 13. The hiring process is anticipated to take 11 weeks. Khumalo said a screening committee has been identified, and Natick’s police chief was asked to participate.

The lieutenant position was posted Feb. 17 and closed March 11. Interviews should commence over the next couple of weeks. The Select Board will interview the two finalists.

A sergeant position also was posted. The posting will close March 29, and the exam will be held on May 31, Kramer said.

Community Paradigm chosen as consultant firm for town manager search

Community Paradigm, the firm that worked with the town during the fire chief selection process, was chosen out of three consultants to facilitate the town’s search for a new town manager. While all three consultants’ fees averaged around $15,000, Community Paradigm’s previous work gave it a competitive advantage.

Parade permit applications approved

The Select Board unanimously approved a parade permit application for a 100-yard dash to be held on April 13 starting at 11 a.m. rather than 1 p.m. The rain date will be the following day. The race would start at the Boston Marathon start line and end on Ash Street next to the Town Common.

The board also approved a modification to the Hopkinton High School graduating senior car parade permit to allow the date to change from June 2 to June 1 at 11 a.m.

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