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Braintree Town Council looks to fund almost $6 million in capital expenses for FY13

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 24, 2012 02:13 PM

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The Town Council next week will vote on almost $6 million in capital expenditures to be put in place for fiscal 2013.

In addition to bonding for $700,000 in school projects, $415,000 for library improvements, $355,000 for police building improvements, and $1.3 million in DPW equipment and projects, councilors will be asked to fund $475,000 of the $925,000 aerial platform fire truck.

The truck, which would be used for East Braintree, is a long-needed item for the town, and something officials were hoping would be paid for by Clean Harbors.

The Norwell-based environmental cleanup company was charged with violating federal rules in 2007 for allegedly storing hazardous waste improperly on its Braintree site and using faulty monitoring equipment.

Clean Harbors reached a $1.7 million settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency late last year, which called for giving $1 million in trees to the city of Boston and paying $650,000 in civil penalties to the EPA.

Braintree officials were outraged when they discovered the town was left out of the settlement, and Mayor Joseph Sullivan said the town would take every action, including lawsuit, to see the community was treated fairly.

The town previously requested that Clean Harbors fund all of a $925,000 fire truck for East Braintree, where the Clean Harbors facility is located.

Since then, Braintree officials have been in negotiations with the EPA and Clean Harbors.
While awaiting an outcome, officials are looking to fund half of the fire truck amount in this year’s budget.

Officials were hesitant to discuss where the remaining $450,000 would come from, only stating that negotiations with the company and the EPA were ongoing.

Although most of the capital spending would be funded by bonds, the rest – such as three police cruisers, public works materials, a vehicle for the water sewer department and a mower for the golf course - would be taken from the stabilization fund.

“We have some money in some accounts, surpluses, that we’ll use to purchase those [public safety] vehicles. We’ll also be using $50,000 from stabilization to fund some of the vehicles and some of the equipment that has a shorter-term life. You run that through your operational budget,” said Peter Morin, chief of operations and staff. “We’re confident the amount we’re taking from stabilization we’ll be able to replenish from surpluses in our budget at the end of our fiscal year.”

The Committee on Ways and Means reviewed the expenditures at their meeting this past week, but delayed voting on the proposals until it receives information on the town’s existing debt.

Although the vote was put off, Morin isn’t concerned that there will be any controversy with the approval.

“We’ve gotten every indication that it will be fully approved. Ways and Means just wanted to look at data regarding the town’s overall debt capacity,” Morin said. “Once they get that ready, they will vote to recommend its approval to the full council, but it was very well received last night and we think it will fly.”

According to Morin, the percentage of the entire budget spent on principal and interest payments in fiscal 2012, which ends June 30, is 3.4 percent. The National Government Financial Officers Association recommends somewhere between 2-4 percent.

“The bonding agencies have looked at us in the past and they say that we have a very manageable debt ratio as part of our budget,'' Morin said. "We have more capacity."

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