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Price keeps rising for Town Offices renovation

NEWFANE—As members of Newfane’s Building Committee gather information on renovation options for the Town Offices building, the numbers keep racking up.

The building has a multitude of issues, from a lack of insulation to little privacy for those visiting town officials to discuss their taxes.

Committee members have discussed these options with the Selectboard: continuing to address the issues piecemeal, a complete renovation of the existing structure, and selling the town office building and constructing a new one.

A few months ago, the Selectboard voted to hire Newfane-based Cotton Design Associates to give the building a complete examination, provide a report on what it would take to fix it, and submit designs for a new building.

Dennis Wiswall, member of the Selectboard and the building committee, shared Cotton Design’s results with the board at its Dec. 7 regular meeting. He said head architectural designer David Cotton told him a new building meeting the town’s specifications would cost about $800,000; complete renovations would cost about $500,000 to $600,000.

Wiswall said these figures were higher than he expected.

The town’s debt management policy may preclude the town from making these changes. It limits the town’s yearly debt, including principal and interest payments, to 10 percent of yearly revenues during that same year.

Renovations or new construction are not Newfane’s only upcoming planned expenditures, and the town is about $123,000 in debt. The highway department will need a new truck soon, estimated to cost $180,000.

Noting the current budget of $1.5 million, Wiswall said, “I don’t think we’re going to be able to do this because we’re going to be over the debt limit.”

“These projects would more than double the town’s debt,” Wiswall added.

Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle reminded board members that the Selectboard has the authority to change or temporarily suspend the debt limit if members decide it is necessary.

The board encouraged the Building Committee to continue gathering information.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #337 (Wednesday, December 23, 2015). This story appeared on page D1.

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