BRATTLEBORO -- The Selectboard has endorsed a $14.1 million renovation of the police and fire facilities.
The board did not formally vote on the plan at a special Selectboard meeting Tuesday, but the members did finish discussions on the proposed plan and will vote on it at its next meeting on Sept. 18.
The board, at that time, is likely to schedule two public information sessions, and then a special representative town meeting, possibly on Oct. 20.
The proposal includes almost $5.6 million for the police station, about $6.9 million for the Elliot Street fire station and approximately $1.5 million for the West Brattleboro fire station.
Town Manager Barbara Sondag said the board has made some small changes since first looking at the plan in June. The proposed emergency operations center was moved from the West Brattleboro station to Central Station, which saved some money. And some parking was removed from the West Brattleboro station to save some money. Sondag said an elevator was removed from the police station project and a lift was suggested to replace it.
Board member David Gartenstein said he and board Chairman Dick DeGray met with the architect and engineer, along with town staff, to go over every line of the proposed budget.
Gartenstein said some changes were made, but some "large ticket" contingency and site needs have kept the project's cost high.
DeGray agreed with Gartenstein, saying that
"This is a significant cost, and we tried to get this is as low as humanly possible," DeGray said. "We had to be mindful that there are needs of the police and fire departments that we have to measure in this project."
The board also talked about when it wanted to ask town meeting representatives to approve a proposed 1 percent local option tax to help pay for the police-fire renovation.
Selectboard member Dora Bouboulis said voters might want to know about the proposed tax before they vote on the project.
Gartenstein said it might be too much to expect to talk about the project and the tax at the same meeting, but at the same time he said he wanted the two issues linked so voters could be assured that the local option tax was going to help pay for the upgrades.
"Procedurally, I'm not sure how we get there," he said.
The board recognized there would be opposition to the tax, and they were not sure when the best time would be to go before the voters to talk about the 1 percent tax.
In the end the board put that decision off until next week, though the members seemed to favor asking town meeting representatives to approve the new tax at the Oct. 20 meeting.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.