Water Warrant Article Gets $2M Removed at Deliberative Session

A water infrastructure warrant article was amended during the Feb. 10 Town Deliberative Session.
It was explained previously by Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, that Saint-Gobain has certain obligations to replace the water infrastructure within the consent decree area, however, the town is proposing to do a water main all the way down High Range Road, which would form the foundation for a larger water public system in town, and help with PFAS remediation in parts of town that aren’t part of the consent decree.
Originally the plan was to look for $10 million in grant funding, to allocate $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding, and expect to get about $13 million from Saint-Gobain for the work done in the consent decree area.
The other funding would come from a loan through the PFAS remediation loan fund through the state, in order to be able to cover the rest of the cost of the grant funding.
“It is looking like we are going to come up roughly $2 million short in that application for $10 million in grant funding,” Magauti previously told the Town Council.
At the previous Town Council meeting, Malaguti explained that based on weekly communication with the Department of Environmental Services and based on their recommendation, it was decided to change the warrant article to allow up to $2.95 million to be raised from taxes, in case more than the $2 million originally thought, is needed.
It was explained previously that if approved and $2.95 million needs to be raised, the first year’s annual principal and interest would be $215,000.
The loan would be 1% interest during construction and 3.5% after, and would be a 20 year loan, which was previously agreed on by the Town Council.
With concerns of the large price tag, since the total warrant article needs to be on the ballot, an amendment was proposed by Town Council Vice Chair, Chad Franz, to take out the ARPA funds from the warrant article.
Finance Director, Justin Campo, said since the ARPA funds have already been accepted they found out that they could not include it on the warrant article, even though the plan is to use the funds for that purpose.
With the reduction, it means the warrant article will be a total of $23.75 million.
Malaguti noted that if the warrant article doesn’t pass they’d also be able to use the ARPA funds for something else.
Town Council Chair, John Farrell, said they are ultimately looking to get “$20 million for $3 million.”
One concern raised during the Deliberative Session was the risk that Saint-Gobain doesn’t agree to be part of the project, meaning the town wouldn’t have the necessary funds to move forward.
Malaguti explained that the warrant article is written to allow for other third party sources for funding, but the hope is that Saint-Gobain would go forward.
He also noted that the project is scalable, meaning if they do run into issues with things like funding, as an example, adjustments could be made.
Kristine Perez said she was in favor of it, but there are questions from people who want to know what the next phase is.
“People want to know what’s next,” she said.
Deb Paul said she wasn’t originally in support of the warrant article, mostly due to it not having multiple phases in place, or least that have been disclosed publicly. She stated that she would be able to support it if there were certain stipulations in place. For example, she would urge the town, if it’s approved, to do a town wide survey to see who would hook up to water lines. She added that they should look at getting a grant through the GroundWater Drinking Fund.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter