A contract proposal between the town and Honeywell initially entailed close to $7 million worth of energy efficiency projects for all schools and town buildings, which was to be paid for through the savings on utility bills over a 15-year-period. But Board of Finance Vice Chairman Michael Manjos said town officials wanted to reduce the scope and believed a 15-year payout was too long.
What Honeywell and some town officials — including First Selectman Steve Vavrek and Supt. of Schools James Agostine — came up with was a $3.8 million proposal for projects at all schools with the exception of Monroe Elementary and no work on municipal buildings. The length of the bonding was reduced to 10 years.
Several Town Council members expressed disappointment that Monroe Elementary School was excluded before unanimously approving the contract at their meeting Monday night. Voters will now decide on the bonding at an upcoming Town Meeting.
"I'm certainly in favor of this proposal," Councilman Tony Unger said. "But I would have liked to have seen all of the school buildings included."
"I'm going to vote in favor of this motion," said Councilwoman Dee Dee Martin. "Much of what Mr. Unger said, I agree with. I want Monroe Elementary included and somehow the Town Council was left out of the discussion."
Councilwoman Debra Dutches echoed the latter sentiment.
Throughout discussion over the contract, Councilman Frank Lieto, whose child goes to Monroe Elementary School, expressed disappointment that it was excluded. "To have a building left in the cold ..." he said.
Supt. of Schools James Agostine said, ideally, he wants all of the schools to be included, but it came down to reducing the scope of the projects and getting some work done. He added that he could come back for Monroe Elementary next year.
During the discussion leading up to the vote, Dutches said she thought the HVAC system for town hall also should have been part of the first phase of projects.
Town Attorney Jack Fracassini, who worked on the lengthy contract, had explained that nothing in the original contract had changed other than the number of projects, total cost and length of time on the bonding. Manjos said the town could get an interest rate of just under 1.5%.