GRAFTON, Mass. - TheDailyVoice.com accepts letters to the editor. Signed letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday, the Board of Selectmen will ask Town Meeting voters to approve a $6.5M facility improvement project that will not include any tax increases. The project will allow the Town to make needed repairs to the Municipal Center’s building envelope and HVAC systems while installing energy efficient systems at all of the Town’s schools (except for the new high school).
The Municipal Center is currently an asset at risk. The building is over 60 years old and showing signs of its age; however, the building is structurally sound and recent studies have confirmed that the building should last another 35 plus years if key maintenance is undertaken. The building needs a new roof, new windows, brick re-pointing, window lintel replacement, a chimney reduction and a new HVAC system. These updates will put an end to the continued infiltration of water into the building, eliminate unnecessary heat loss and replace the original heating system. All of these upgrades work in concert to protect the building; therefore the Board feels that doing all these projects at once is the most responsible approach.
The improvements proposed for the five schools in town include converting three of buildings from oil to natural gas, replacing domestic hot water heaters, installing energy management systems at all schools and installing power management software on all district computers. The proposed improvements to the schools will result in annual energy savings of close to $250,000, roughly a 25 percent reduction in the school department’s energy budget.
The Board is proposing to complete all of these improvements at no additional cost to the taxpayers. Through a combination of stabilization funds (the Town’s savings account), energy rebates, savings from the high school building project, credits from the Town’s new solar field, and annual energy savings, the Board is proposing a financing plan that will not raise tax bills. The Board is not claiming the project is free, but is using tax dollars you already paid to fund these updates.
The choice is simple: does the Town continue to pay high energy bills to the utility companies and operate with decades old equipment, or does the Town take those same dollars and upgrade its infrastructure at no additional tax burden to its residents. We ask for your support in preserving the Town’s infrastructure and removing a future liability from the Town’s tax rolls.
The Grafton Board of Selectmen
David Ross, chairman