By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Town Administrator Scott Dunn made his final pitch to the Budget Committee Thursday night about supporting the Phase II repairs to the town offices.
The original warrant article asked for $525,000 to complete the project but the cost is higher than what was anticipated largely because of the estimated cost of $400,000 to repair the heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Last week, the Budget Committee voted not to recommend it on the warrant.
Dunn said he reached out to a third contractor who told him the work could possibly be done for $200,000. With that new information, Dunn said selectmen would likely change the warrant article to ask for $450,000 and not $525,000.
Phase II of the town hall renovation project, said Dunn, would not only replace the entire HVAC system, but would landscape the lot, replace all of the old flooring, and change out the 30-year-old water tank to one with higher pressure.
Dunn told the committee that the project has been on the approved Capital Improvement Plan since 2012 and would be paid for from the undesignated surplus, meaning no new tax dollars would be needed.
He said that a $450,000 the town would also add an impound lot for the police department and a vault for storage back into the project. Those items had been removed because of the high costs of the HVAC system.
"My goal is to get you folks to realize we need to do something," said Dunn. "Let the selectmen come up with a new warrant article."
Budget Committee Vice Chairman Kevin Leandro said he would like to see the job completed for less than $450,000 but School Board representative to the Budget Committee Chris McDonough said he wants to see the proposal dropped by at least $200,000.
McDonough said that people need to remember that the unexpended fund balance or surplus is money that has already been raised through taxes and still belongs to the Gilford taxpayer.
"I see the value but I just don't want to overspend," McDonough said.
Dunn said he would talk to selectmen at their next meeting and if they could agree on a number, they would recommended any changes at the upcoming deliberative session of Town Meeting on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at Gilford High School Auditorium.
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