Budget Committee Considers Auditorium, Library Books, Roads

The Budget Committee considered requests for funding to support various initiatives and town services, including road maintenance, public library resources, and the proposed construction of a community auditorium.

In a presentation at the Committee’s Oct. 23 meeting, Director of Public Works and Engineering Janusz Czyzowski told the committee funding levels for road rehabilitation are substantially lower than they should be.

“I’m doomed, I can’t keep it up,” Czyzowski said, explaining that based on a recommended 12 year cycle of maintenance for the roads in Londonderry, he should be rehabilitating 15 miles per year at a cost of $2.4 million.

“The minute you build a road, pavement starts oxidizing,” he said. “Around 12 years, you should invest some money to renovate that road. If you don’t, that road deteriorates very quickly and it costs later on four or five times more.”

Instead, the town has been funding the program at $295,182 per year, allowing for 1.8 miles to be rehabilitated annually – a 102 year rehabilitation cycle.

The Town additionally receives $500,000 in a state grant for repairs.

“In the maintenance fund I have to accumulate from year to year until I have at least $750,000 to work on a road,” he said. And that is just for “shim and overlay,” a process Czyzowski likens to “painting your house.”

Czyzowski said because he doesn’t have the funds to reconstruct roads in need, he has to shim and overlay deteriorating roads, which “is like painting on rust.”

“Some people might say we just paved this road and it’s already cracking. That’s because we couldn’t afford to rebuild it,” he said.

Total, full-depth reconstruction of the roads costs approximately $1.6 million per mile.

Czyzowski additionally noted the importance of maintaining detention ponds and drainage systems in town, which prevent flooding.

“Do you have a timeline for when we will have to bond to catch up with the 12-year cycle?” asked member Tim Siekmann.

“I don’t think I will get the $2.4 million every year for shim and overlay, but that’s what we need, and that’s not for reconstruction, that’s just for maintaining the system,” he said.

Library

Also presenting to the committee was Pauline Caron, treasurer of the library Trustees.

Caron said last year’s operating budget was $1.2 million and the only increase the library is seeking this year is $5,900 for books to bring the funding level back up to what is was in previous years – at $110,000 for six years in a row, and $115,000 a couple years before that.

Last year the budget for books dropped to $77,000, despite a dramatic increase in the library’s usage, according to Caron, who also noted the library could always use more computers.

Caron reported 1,305 children read 37,614 books during the summer reading program from June 1 to Sept. 6, and 503 young adults read 4,875 books as part of the popular program.

Staffing has also gone down from 18 to 14 employees as use has increased.

“It’s a struggle because most of our employees are part time,” said Caron. “Yes, we have volunteers, but volunteers can’t do all the work in the library because of patron security reasons.”

Auditorium

In a presentation to the committee on the proposed community auditorium, Auditorium Committee Chairman Tony DeFrancesco told the Budget Committee the project is a good business decision and the right next step for Londonderry.

DeFrancesco reported the operating costs for the 800-seat auditorium are estimated to come in at $160,000 per year, but he thinks they will be much lower due to energy-efficient technology included in the building plans.

“I believe this number is very high and will come in considerably less than this, plus rental fees will help offset these costs,” he said.

DeFrancesco said cost savings of over $500,000 are also achieved in the plans by not building a pre-staging space, but instead using the cafeteria for that purpose and installing technology that will allow performers in the cafeteria pre-staging area to watch live streaming of the performance onstage.

School District Business Administrator Peter Curro informed the Committee the School District is nowhere near its debt margin; and that just as it’s not good to accrue too much debt, it’s also bad practice to fail to utilize resources and invest where needed when funds are available.

Curro additionally no-ted a bond for a project at Londonderry Middle School in the amount of $10.6 million, approximately the estimated cost of the community auditorium, will drop off before the District would begin paying for a bond for the auditorium, if it were to move forward.

When asked what other significant improvements the School District may need to complete moving forward, Curro said the only other project he could see is a District office.

“All major roof projects will have been done by the time of the bond for the auditorium,” he said.

Chairman Ted Combes asked DeFrancesco if there are any major companies that have expressed interest in building an auditorium such as the one proposed in Londonderry.

DeFrancesco said a lot of private donations have already come in for the project and he has spoken with companies that are interested in a sponsorship, but none are willing to commit funding until they are sure the project will move forward.

“They’re not going to tie money up for something they aren’t sure will go forward,” he said. “We hope to get a favorable vote on this; we think all our ducks are in a line.”

A full report on the proposed community au-ditorium is available online at www.londonderry.org.

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