BOARD OF SELECTMEN

SPECIAL MEETING

 

BOARD OF FINANCE

BUDGET MEETING

 

TOWN COUNCIL

SPECIAL MEETING

 

 

February 14, 2006

7:00 pm in the Douglass Room of Lapham Community Center

 

 

BOARD OF SELECTMEN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:

     Judy Neville, First Selectman

    Johnny Potts, Selectman

    Paul Giusti, Selectman

 

 

BOARD OF FINANCE

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:                                     MEMBERS ABSENT:

     Mary Davis Cody                                                Robert Cruickshank

     Robert DiPanni                                                    Harry Durney

     John Laird                                                            Daniel Ward

     Roger Smith

     Robert Spangler

     Judy Neville, Chairman

 

TOWN COUNCIL

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:

      Barbara Beall                                                       Paul Foley

      Ken Campbell                                                      Christine Hussey

      Kathryn Devereaux                                              Thomas O’Dea

      Mark DeWaele                                                     Ruth Smithers

      John Emert                                                           Richard White

                                                                                   Penny Young

 

MEMBER ABSENT:  Lewis Annunziato

 

 

ALSO PRESENT:  George Maranis, Administrative Officer;  Gary Conrad, Chief Financial Officer;  William “Chip” D’Angelo and Christopher Spicer of WCD Consultants;  Christine Wagner, Chairman, and Arnold Karp, Penny Rashin, and Werner Meyer, members, New Canaan High School Building Committee;  Sally Hines, Chairman, and Deb Edwards, Nick Fellner, Tucker Murphy, and Ditte Reifsnyder, members, New Canaan Board of Education;  David Abbey, Superintendent of Schools;  Steve Swerdlick, Assistant Superintendent of Schools;  Mike Lagas, New Canaan Public Schools (NCPS) Business Manager; Joe Meehan, NCPS Business Office;  Hans Otto, NCPS Facilities Manager;  Tony Pavia, Principal, New Canaan High School;  Joe Gambino, Construction Consulting Group, Owner’s Representative;  Mark Jeffkoe, O&G Industries, Inc., Project Manager;  Andy Ashforth, A.P. Construction Company;  Larry Rusconi, Managing Director, and Mike O.Neil, Director, RSM McGladrey Consulting;  Jeb Walker, Chairman, Park & Recreation Commission;  Jim Cole,  Police Commissioner and Director of Emergency Services;  Sara Poirier, New Canaan Adveriser;  John Mordecai, New Canaan News-Review;  and eight or nine members of the public.

 

Judy Neville called the Special Meeting of the Board of Selectmen to order at 7:05 pm and took the roll, noting the presence of all the Selectmen.  Ms. Neville then called the Budget Meeting of the Board of Finance to order and took the roll, noting the absence of Mssrs. Cruickshank, Durney, and Ward.  She asked that Alternate Mary Davis Cody be seated in place of Mr. Cruickshank and this was unanimously agreed to by the Board.  Penny Young read the Notice of Special Meeting of the Town Council and took the roll, noting the absence of Chairman Annunziato.

 

Ms. Neville then asked that the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance consider the Agenda item asking approval of a request from the New Canaan High School Building Committee for an  appropriation of $6,460,131 for asbestos abatement at New Canaan High School.  The Town Council was also invited to hear this item, although it would not be voting on it at this meeting.  Christine Wagner made the presentation for the High School Building Committee, pointing out that the request comprised two elements - $4,420,622 for the balance of the asbestos abatement work, and $2,039,509 for the replenishment of contingency funds which has previously been used for asbestos abatement.  Ms. Wagner described the approach taken by the Building Committee in determining the amount of the appropriation request.  She acknowledged the recommendations made by WCD Consultants to control the cost of the asbestos abatement, and explained that such recommendations were taken into account wherever deemed appropriate by the Building Committee and the Project Manager.  In this regard, she pointed to a reduction in the amount of the estimate in the amount to complete the asbestos removal from an original estimate of $5,454,069 to the present request for $4,420,622.  Ms. Wagner noted, however, that the Committee had not received formal written notification from the State Department of Public Health delineating the revised protocols for asbestos removal worked out by the State with WCD Consultants and the requested appropriation did not reflect these new procedures in their totality.  She confirmed that the appropriation request was “conservative.”

 

Ms. Wagner then introduced Mark Jeffko, who was joined by Mr. Ashforth in describing  in more detail the procedures being followed in the asbestos abatement process and the difficulties expected to be confronted in implementing new protocols.  At this point, Mr. D’Angelo of WCD Consultants took issue with the previous speakers, contending that the asbestos removal had been mishandled from the beginning and that the cost of asbestos abatement to date has been excessive.  He argued  that there were ample opportunities going forward to significantly reduce the cost to complete.  He indicated that State approval of the less restrictive removal protocols was assured and that further opportunities existed for “de-scoping “ the project.  He argued that the remaining asbestos removal could be accomplished for approximately $3,000,000, not the $4,420,622 requested by the Committee.  Joe Gambino attempted to explain the conditions and constraints under which asbestos abatement had been conducted and the mandates imposed by the State.  He indicated, however, as did Ms. Wagner, that all parties stood ready to work cooperatively with WCD going forward.

 

Discussion then centered on the request to replenish the Contingency Fund, with questions asked and answers given over the history of transactions in the Fund.  Mr. Jeffko and Mr. Ashforth detailed the number and amounts of existing, pending, and proposed change orders that will have to be charged to the contingency fund and the critical need of restoring the fund to acceptable levels.  It was the general consensus of the Town bodies that the fund should be “made whole” for all the asbestos-related charges to the Fund.

 

At this point, Ms. Neville made a motion that the appropriation request be reduced to $3,000,000, comprising $1,500,000 for asbestos abatement and $1,500,000 for replenishment of the Contingency Fund, and Mr. Giusti seconded the motion.  Mr. Ashforth made a strong argument that the Contingency Fund reimbursement be increased and Mr. Giusti amended the motion, increasing the Contingency Fund reimbursement to $2,000,000.  Mr. Potts seconded Mr. Giusti’s amended motion, and the Selectmen voted unanimously to approve an appropriation of $3,500,000, consisting of $1,500,000 for asbestos abatement and $2,000,000 for contingency Fund reimbursement.

 

On the motion of Mr. DiPanni and the second of Mr. Smith, the Board of Finance then approved the appropriation of $3,500,000, with five members  voting in favor, and Mr. Spangler dissenting.  Next, on the motion of Mr. DiPanni and the second of Mr. Smith, the Board of Finance unanimously approved and recommended to the Town Council a resolution entitled “Resolution Appropriating $3,500,000 For Continuation Of Asbestos Abatement At The New Canaan High School And Authorizing The Issuance Of $3,500,000 Bonds Of The Town To Meet Said Appropriation And Pending The Issuance Thereof The Making Of Temporary Borrowings For Such Purpose.”

 

Before moving to the next item on the Agenda, the hearing of the McGladrey report and, recognizing the lateness of the hour,  it was the consensus of all those present that the hearing of the Board of Education be deferred to Tuesday, February 28, 2006.

 

Mr. Rusconi and Mr. O’Neil then presented the report of RMS McGladrey on the agreed-upon special procedures performed by McGladrey on the records of the New Canaan High School Building Committee.  They presented the four recommendations of the report: (1) reimbursement claims be submitted in a more timely manner or every two months; (2)  accounting support be provided to implement the recommendation for more timely reimbursements; (3) financial reporting to the Town Council and/or the Board of Finance be enhanced, perhaps by making monthly reports; and (4) a State Department of Education pre-audit be considered to determine if all required paperwork is readily available to support all expenditures.  Mr. Gambino responded to finding (1), explaining the conditions surrounding the frequency of reimbursement claims and vowing to process them on a more timely basis.  The Town Council voted unanimously to accept the report.

 

There being no further business, the Town bodies voted unanimously to adjourn at 11:12pm.

 

 

 

 

                                                 Respectfully submitted,

 

 

                                                 George M. Maranis, Secretary, Board of Selectmen

 

 

                                                

                                                  Robert DiPanni, Secretary, Board of Fianance

 

 

                                               

                                                  Penny Young, Secretary, Town Council