Sunderland to discuss town hall

SUNDERLAND - Proposals to construct and then pay for a town hall is likely to hold center stage during the floor meeting portion of Sunderland's Town Meeting on Monday, March 4.

The voting involves a two-step process, beginning with a vote to approve the design of the building, recently completed by architect Barry Hoeg. The design has been approved by both the Sunderland Select Board and the Sunderland Building Committee. The floor meeting will start at 7 p.m. at Sunderland Elementary School.

The second step involves the vote to approve the bond to finance the building. That vote will take place Tuesday, March 5. The bond is set at $351,000 over a 20 year time period.

Sunderland Select Board Chairman, Mark Hyde, said that after research the board decided that to best way to finance the project was through a bond.

"We looked into other options such as commercial lending," he said. "On average, commercial lending costs two percent more than a bond and after crunching the numbers we, as a board, came to the conclusion that a bond was the best way to go."

The total cost for the Town Hall project is estimated at $510,587. If the bond is approved by voters in March the amount left to finance the building will be $159,587. The Town currently has $159,513.17 in a Building Reserve Fund, which covers the rest of the cost of the project.

Sunderland will also use an Equipment Reserve Fund, totaling $23,300 as of June 30, 2012, to purchase furniture and additional equipment for the building.

"There is not much equipment in the old offices that we will be able to use, which is basically a small table and a desk," said Hyde. "Obviously, we will try and reuse what we can, but we really do need more equipment."

New equipment will be needed to provide a permanent location for town businesses to be transacted by the town clerk and treasurer, the select board, planning and zoning boards and listers, the zoning administrator, and the emergency management coordinator among others.

The largest cost for equipment is a secure vault that will be used to house financial records and allow for proper storage and preservation of town records.

"The vault is the most expensive piece of equipment," said Hyde. "The ballpark cost is probably around $50,000."

If the bond is approved the new annual cost of the building is estimated at $20,589. This includes annual payments made towards the bond at $26,629 plus the maintenance of the building at $8,760. However, current town hall rent and annual building allotment equaling $14,800 is subtracted from the total cost.

As the town pays off the principal amount of the bond, interest charges will diminish over time. By year 19 of the 20 year bond, the annual payment will decline to $18,454.

"What the bond does is it allows us to pay it off while creating less of an impact on our town residents," said Hyde.

The bond of the town hall project will raise property taxes for the town. Currently, the median property value in Sunderland is $200,000. For a property worth $200,000, the yearly additional cost for the town hall building would be $25 on their property taxes.

"We have received a lot of feedback from residents wanting to know the cost and the impact on them," Hyde said. "Generally, I have heard fairly positive things about the project."

The base cost of the new building is estimated at $427,061. Permits for construction of the building equal $2,584. Upgrades to the building include a standing seam metal roof, $16,560, which will keep maintenance costs down over the long term and carries a 50-year warranty. Also keeping maintenance costs down is the upgrade of a clapboard exterior.

"We tried to keep costs as low as possible, but also have a building that could fulfill the town's needs," said Hyde. "Generally the boards feeling is that we have a building that looks nice, has very low per year maintenance costs, and will last over time.

A 10 percent contingency allowance is generally carried with a preliminary cost estimate on construction projects. This allowance, which totals $42,706, is included to cover any unanticipated or increased costs during the course of construction.

The project also includes paving a full parking area that is accepted by the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) which will cost $5,826. A cupola that will cost $2,500 is a part of the design of the building which allows the architect to reduce roof cuts.

The town will dedicate the town hall project to Everett Randle, a former property owner of the site. According to the Sunderland Town Clerk, Rose Keogh, the property was sold to the town by Ann Montgomery at a cheap price and as a part of the sale she asked that the town hall be dedicated to Everett Randle. The dedication plaque will cost $1,000.

An informational meeting will be held on Monday, March 4 at the Sunderland Elementary School at 7 p.m. to explain the proposed town office building improvements and the financing of the project. The vote to approve the bond will be held on Tuesday, March 5 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Sunderland Elementary School.


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