22 Aug 2014
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Finance Members Look to Cash, Not Bond, for Turf Project

The Southington Board of Finance Tuesday approved a $920,000 cash purchase for the installation of synthetic turf at Southington High School.

Finance Members Look to Cash, Not Bond, for Turf Project

Just one day after the Southington Town Council voted unanimously to approve bonding as an option to pay for the installation of synthetic turf at , the Board of Finance determined that was not the best way to pay for the project.

Finance members voted unanimously on Tuesday night to approve the one-time cash payment for the high school, using savings from the Self Insurance account and the town’s contingency fund to pay for $920,000 in costs associated with the project.

“Given all the other bonding that will be coming down the road in the near future, I feel it’s important that we do what we can to pay for this project now and avoid additional costs to the taxpayers,” Finance member Anthony Casale Jr. said Wednesday.

The cash option comes with a catch, however – finance members want to see the Board of Education contribute $40,000 to the overall cost of the project.

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The discussion began when finance members were asked to consider ways to pay for the project during a special meeting held in the community room at the Southington Police Department on Tuesday night. It was the final meeting of the 2011-12 fiscal year and Garry Brumback and Southington Finance Director Emilia Porthelina told members that there were savings realized in the Self Insurance account of $609,642.

To offset the costs, the finance board chose to move $310,358 from the remaining contingency fund and allocated the money to the turf installation on Fontana Field. The remaining money in the account, $74,310, will be returned to the town’s rainy day fund.

Finance member Wayne Stanforth said in using the contingency, the town would still maintain a 10.6 percent rainy day fund, well above the 9 percent required under the town’s fiscal plan.

Although bonding was approved for the project at $960,000, Casale and Feld said they wanted to see the remaining $40,000 come from the Board of Education’s field maintenance account.

Casale and Sandra Feld said that due to the timing of the project, which Brumback said Wednesday would begin in August and likely be completed at the end of October, they would like to see $40,000 from the field maintenance account reallocated to the project.

Feld said savings would be realized by the Board of Education, due in large part to zero maintenance costs after summer school.

The Southington Blue Knights football program, which had primarily used the field before, will need to relocate during most of the upcoming season, but the field itself will not be used and therefore would not need to be maintained. 

“I honestly believe the Board of Education will benefit from the field in more ways than we’ve considered and to ask them to use the $40,000 for this is not unrealistic,” Casale said.

The Board of Finance recommendation will now be forwarded to the Southington Town Council, who will have the task of making a final decision. Council members had approved bonding as an option Monday evening, but Council Chairman John Dobbins said that doesn’t mean the council will decide to bond the project in the end.

“It’s a formal process and that vote simply means we can bond the project if we wanted,” he said following Monday’s meeting. “It doesn’t mean we will bond the project. We still need to have a discussion regarding the best way to pay for it.”

In case you missed it…

Last week, the Planning and Zoning held a discussion in which they passed an 8-24 referral determining that the project met the town’s plan of development. The recommendation passed after a 5-2 vote along party lines. .  

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