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Spring Referendum Could Include $4 Million Question For Derby School Buildings

by Eugene Driscoll | Mar 5, 2013 10:15 pm

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Posted to: Derby

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A yet-to-be scheduled referendum in the spring could include a question on whether the city should borrow $4 million to replace the roofs at the Irving School, the Bradley School and Derby High School.

The roofs on those three buildings have outlived their lifespans, according to Derby Schools Superintendent Matthew Conway.

The school board has previously requested the city fund the roof replacements through the city’s Capital Planning Committee. Due to the large price tag associated with the work, the expenditure has to be put to voters — and spreading the borrowing out over the long term makes fiscal sense, officials said.

The school district Monday (March 4) posted a yes-or-no poll question on the district’s website pertaining to the $4 million question:

“Shall the City of Derby appropriate $4,000,000.00 for replacement of the Derby High School, Bradley School, Irving School roofs and related work and improvements?”

The poll question is meant to measure public sentiment, Conway said.

“I am simply trying to gauge from our school community in terms of support from those individuals with students in those schools who are aware of the roof issues — whether they believe they would support an item like that on a referendum,” Conway said.

Derby residents could be asked to decide on two other topics in the spring:

  • The Derby Water Pollution Control Authority wants to pose three questions to the public asking permission to borrow between $20 million and $35 million to make repairs to the city’s ailing sewer system. Click here, here and here for more information on the WPCA issues.
  • The Derby Parking Authority is also considering whether to borrow millions to repair the aging public parking garage on Thompson Place.

Derby is still calculating how much these proposed projects will impact taxpayers. The city treasurer’s office has asked for additional information from the WPCA, the school district and the parking authority regarding the projects.

David Nardone, facilities manager for Derby Public Schools, said the roofs at Bradley, Irving and the high school are more than 20 years old. It’s simply time to replace them, he said.

“We have several leaks that are ongoing. We continue to work on them,” Nardone said.

Nardone’s crews patch the leaking holes when they become a problem. It’s not a constant headache because maintenance crews keep an eye on them and patch the leaks when needed.

“There are probably three or four leaks that are recurring. We work on them from time to time, but I don’t want anyone to think we have water pouring into the building every time it rains. There are three or four that are a problem,” Nardone said.

The next meeting of the Derby Board of Education is scheduled for March 28. It is not known whether the $4 million request will be a discussion item on the board’s agenda.

Derby Treasurer Keith McLiverty said $2 million would be used to replace the high school roof. The other $2 million would be used for Bradley and Irving. Those dollar amounts are being double-checked.

“While the BOE provided construction estimates, the city is encouraging engineer estimates to validate the number and ensure that the funds requested are accurate and appropriate,” McLiverty said in an e-mail.

McLiverty said the roof replacements are good items to finance over a long period of time, especially given the city’s solid bond rating and good fiscal shape — which will get Derby a low interest rate.

“In addition, there are funds that would come from Hartford, reducing Derby’s share of the project cost to the taxpayers,” McLiverty said in the e-mail. “Due to the total cost of the project, the low interest rates in municipal markets, and the expected life of the roofs exceeding 20 years, paying for this over time is the most cost-effective way to fund the project with minimal impact to the taxpayers.”

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