In keeping with a long-stated goal, the Canton Board of Selectmen this week will consider moving forward with a plan that the town borrow money for a new highway garage project and major road repairs.
The two were originally set to go to bonding — the town's way to borrow and pay back with interest over time — last fall with two other major projects. However, selectmen pulled the plug when appraisals for 5 Cherry Brook Road, the property under consideration for a new garage, came in lower than the purchase price.
Since the two projects were bundled road funding in the amount of $6 million also had to be pulled. The roads funding would pay for major projects the town can not fund with its regular capital budget.
Last week, selectmen authorized Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner to formally pursue a different property for the Public Works Garage — 325 Commerce Drive for $225,000. As of Monday afternoon, Skinner said he had not yet received the final, signed purchase and sale agreement. The agreement would allow the town to opt out if the project does not clear hurdles — which include Board of Finance approval, a town vote and land-use approvals.
Town officials said the property would involve much less in estimated site work than 5 Cherry Brook, approximately $1.25 million as opposed to $3.1 million.
While pursuing the purchase and sale agreement for the Commerce Drive property, Skinner said he is also contacting another firm to get an estimate for the entire project. Weston and Sampson has quoted the town a little less than $6 million for a project that includes a design, bid, build project but Skinner said he is looking to get a price for design, build. The latter utilizes the same company to design and build a project, cutting out a step and allowing for less-developed plans since the company can make decisions as it goes along with the building portion of it.
Skinner said he is not certain he will have a new quote by Wednesday's meeting but still expects selectmen may decide to forward a proposal to the Board of Finance in the hopes of eventually getting the projects to referendum this Spring.
"It would be my goal to have it voted on in May," Skinner said.
If projects do go forward for a May referendum, it makes it likely that residents would also vote on the budget at the same time. The budget process formally resumes next week.
The budget is generally decided at the annual budget meeting but the town charter said the vote can go to referendum if fewer than 150 qualified voters are at the meeting or if that number petition for one. Selectman David Gilchrist Jr. and George Murtha have petitioned in the past when a large increase is proposed or if a referendum is slated for another reason. Gilchrist said the two would petition again if that's what's required to put it on with the bonding.
First, however, the Board of Finance would have to approve bringing the projects to referendum.
The Board of Selectmen will discuss the issue during its meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the community center. See the fill agenda here.