Apr 22, 2014 Joe Genco Uncategorized
The Spafford town leaders are in the process of dealing with both short term and long term decisions regarding its building needs.
In addition to dealing with a roof replacement and minor repairs to the town hall, the Town Board board must make a tough decision about the future of the highway department garage.
The highway garage was cited for several code violations last December and though those issues are being addressed now, the building is ultimately too small for the highway department’s needs, Supervisor Mary Bean said.
Though the town has budgeted money for the roof replacement, the other repairs have not been planned for by previous administrations and the town does not have a long term plan for the highway garage, Bean said.
With minimal reserve and contingency funds and a small operating budget, doing major renovations to one of its buildings, or constructing a new building, would likely mean borrowing money, which would result in a tax increase, Bean said.
“Certainly if we build [a new structure] or even remodel the current highway garage, you’re looking at a tax hike. There’s no way we can not raise taxes,” she said.
Bean explained the situation to residents in a town newsletter:
“One of the first tasks of a newly elected supervisor is to evaluate the assets of the town to ensure that all our buildings and equipment are in good working order in order to provide the services that you need. Your elected officials also have a responsibility for providing town employees with a safe, clean work environment and preserving the town’s assets.”
The highway garage was inspected by Town Codes Enforcement Officer Howard Tanner last December. He found several code violations, which he recommended the town immediately address.
In order to fit in the building, a snow plow had to be parked against a wall that contained an electrical conduit. The town has already paid to have an electrician come in and move the conduit, Tanner said.
Another problem, improper storage of flammable materials, was corrected by the purchase of an explosion-proof locker.
Tanner also cited the building for structural issues. Several vertical steel I-beams were rotted through and need to be replaced.
The building must pass inspection every three years and though the issues were not new, Tanner said it is possible that they were simply overlooked in the past.
The town hall was originally built in 1985. The area that currently serves as the meeting room and court was the original building. In 1999, the town constructed an addition to add more office space. Though the doors to the building were designed to be handicap accessible, one door can only open from the inside and others have a lip that would make entering the building in a wheelchair challenging, Bean said.
Tanner also reported that there are repairs needed to the rafters to make the roof more structurally sound, though the building has not received any citations.
The highway garage was constructed in the late 1960s and is currently barely big enough to house the town’s trucks, it also costs a lot of money to properly heat the building, which should be addressed, Bean said.
Both buildings could also be made more energy efficient by installing high-efficiency lighting fixtures, she said.
A volunteer highway department advisory committee has been appointed by the board and is currently looking at options for renovating or rebuilding the garage. The town has also brought in an architecture firm to give advice.
The board will discuss the roof replacement and vote to go out to bid for the contract at its May 8 meeting. The board will continue its discussion about other facility needs, once the highway committee completes its work and makes a recommendation, Bean said.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.