Press-Republican

March 28, 2013

Shared-facility idea needs work, officials say

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Preliminary plans were scrapped for a shared maintenance and service garage proposed for the town, village and Malone Central School District.

The project is designed as three separate spaces to house the Town of Malone Highway Garage, Village of Malone Department of Public Works and School District bus garage.

The multi-million-dollar buy-in for each municipality on the $11 million capital project would be too much to justify to taxpayers, said town officials days after village leaders questioned the expense.

“Tim, at the next meeting, we go back to the drawing board,” Town Supervisor Howard Maneely said to Timothy Whipple, the School District’s business administrator.

Whipple said CS Arch, the project architect, based its conceptual drawing on the wish list that municipal employees had given when the project was first proposed.

NO TANGIBLE ASSET

Representatives from the three entities will meet Thursday to adjust some details since the design includes separate bathrooms, tool rooms and office spaces, for example, instead of sharing those spaces.

Under the proposal, the construction cost alone for the town was $2,652,841, the village’s share was $2,807,762, and the school’s portion would be $5,526,622.

Mayor Todd LePine said the village is being asked to invest nearly $3 million in a project that is not a long-term asset.

“We want to save money taxpayers money, but we don’t want to spend money and have nothing to show for it,” he said. “In the end, the school will pay $5 million for a $12 million asset.”

When the process started, he said, the village determined it needed about 21,000 square feet of space and that it would cost about $2.4 million. 

But the architect’s plan gives the village about 11,000 square feet for the $2.8 million price tag.

LePine said the village wants “true savings” that would come from sharing personnel once retirements took place. He said there would be lasting savings that way because the state-retirement numbers projected in the next five years “are unsustainable.”

The Village Board is cutting some jobs in its 2013-14 budget and may be asked by Trustee Joe Riccio to consider bowing out of the shared-transportation facility because of the cost and lack of tangible benefits.

REIMBURSEMENT CONFUSION

The shared-facility costs were made more confusing to some who thought that all three entities would see 90 percent reimbursement through the State Education Department.

But that is not so.

Only the school’s bus-garage portion would be reimbursed; there is no reimbursement for the rest of the structure.

School Board member Carol Hunter, who recently presented the proposal to the Town Council, apologized for the misconception.

In addition to construction of the 40,000-square-foot site, the town and village would pay to lease space from the School District for 99 years, but the amount has not been negotiated yet, she said.

Hunter said the town’s share of construction costs on a 20-year bond at an estimated 3.75 percent would cost $200,000 a year, and a 30-year bond at 4.2 percent would be about $160,000 per 12 months.

The village’s share across 20 years is about $213,000 at 3.75 percent and $170,000 for 30 years at 4.2 percent.

The School District’s share at 4.2 percent would be about $50,000 a year for 30 years.

FAA INVOLVEMENT

In addition to confusion about reimbursement, another sticking point could be the Federal Aviation Administration.

The shared facility is proposed for a parcel of land the town owns near the existing Town Highway Garage on Route 11 at the Malone Dufort Airport.

The town needed special arrangements from the FAA a few years ago to change the airport configuration because the Holiday Inn Express and Suites was built. And the town recently turned down a request from the State Police, who wanted a truck-weighing station at the airport, saying the FAA wouldn’t approve.

Airport Manager Mark Besio suggested the FAA be brought in to the planning process for the shared facility as soon as possible.

“Before going ahead and doing all this legwork, they’re the starting point,” he said.

He suggested the town consider instead investing about $182,000 in the existing Highway Garage, which would last many more years and be a lot cheaper than $2.6 million.

“That $182,000 would do a lot of good in that garage,” Besio said. “We’ve got the money and in-house (employees) to do the work.

“We don’t need major renovation, just money to keep it going,” he said.

The School Board will meet 9 a.m. today with representatives of both town and village at Franklin Academy High School.

The session is open to the public.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com