This report was presented by Essex Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki at this week’s Board of Selectmen meeting on October 19, and it covers topics of interest for town business from September 26 to October 16.
Mr. Zubricki filed the subject report for the quarter ending September 30 with the state
during the week of September 28, 2020, in his capacity as the Town’s Affirmative Marketing Construction Officer (AMCO). The report is intended to document the utilization of women and minority-owned businesses on State funded construction projects. No such utilization occurred over the past quarter.
In a fashion similar to the process followed for the furnishing of the renovated Town Hall and Library, the Town intends to allow for the provision of new or “like-new” furnishings for the new public safety building. Like-new means that anything provided is restored to the state it would have been in when new and often allows for much better pricing than new, possible higher quality, and with a better ability to customize for our specific applications and spaces. The two chiefs are on board with that plan and the Town expects to release the Invitation to Bid during the month of November, 2020. Some specialty items, such as storage racks and beds,
will likely be procured separately, using a State Contract vendor.
As the Board may recall, the Town reviewed the 25% design plan for the Essex River Bridge on Route 133 some months ago. Mass DOT has now advanced the drawings to the 75% stage and has asked the Town for another review. Given that the Town had its questions answered at the 25% design stage, there probably will not be much more to comment or to ask about. In any case, various department heads and former Selectman Lisa O’Donnell (a practicing structural engineer) now have the opportunity to review the plans at this new stage.
Chairman Pereen andMr. Zubricki participated in weekly construction project meetings on October 1, 8 and 15, 2020. The project has now achieved a tight building envelope and siding and other details with respect to the exterior should be completed within the next two months. The interior of the building is being completed starting with the lower level, moving to the upper level, and finally, the apparatus bay. The lower level is advancing well and the contractor is looking forward to getting wallboard started on the upper level soon. The project is still
on track for a late-February or early March completion date. Final paving will not occur until April and only the necessary egress sidewalks will be installed this fall (others will be installed with final paving). As such, the two departments will likely elect to delay moving in until after the paving has been completed.
The Town Administrator completed facility self-inspection forms for the Town Hall and the Senior Center during the week of October 5, 2020. The forms are aimed at identifying any safety hazards on an ongoing basis, in order to avoid accidents and injuries. Mr. Zubricki had no findings in Town Hall and the Town will continue to work on replacing the flooring in the Senior Center (funding has been obtained), since loose floor tiles are starting to cause tripping hazards.
The Town Administrator (TA) met virtually with the Town’s insurance representative from the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA) on October 7, 2020 to go over the various lines of insurance coverage for the Town. As usual, limits and specific coverages were discussed and our program is well in order.
The Department of Public Works has shut off the seasonal water to the Grove and has blown out those lines. The DPW has also removed the docks from the water. The Town’s plumbing contractor has winterized the cottage by blowing out lines in that building and adding antifreeze to drain traps. The Selectmen’s Assistant will have the portable toilets removed and our irrigation contractor will soon winterize the sprinkler system at the Field of Dreams.
Now that the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 has closed out, the Town Accountant has been able to produce a report concerning actual revenues versus revenues forecasted during the budgeting process. She will present her report at the present meeting, during the department head and board/committee quarterly meeting segment.
As the Board may recall, the Town had been awarded over $334,000 in CARES Act funding late in fiscal year 2020 to assist with new costs associated with managing the COVID-19 crisis. CARES covers just 25% of most expenses, since most expenses are eligible for 75% funding through FEMA. As such, in fiscal year 2020, the Town spent a total of only $17,618 in CARES funding (including some items that were not FEMA-eligible) and left unspent $23,520, leaving about $293,000 that could be additionally requested for fiscal year 2021. The Town Accountant recently tallied all needs and departmental requests for CARES funding through this coming December 30 and it appears that municipal needs through that date will total about $105,000 (including some large, one-time, CARES-only items, such as equipment). The Town will hold a number of $130,000 to allow for any contingencies and some recurring charges. It is also possible to allow the Manchester Essex Regional School District to draw on the remaining
funds (around $160,000), on a reimbursable basis. As such, we have determined that the Town should apply to the Department of Revenue for the entire $293,000 remainder in fiscal year 2021.
Since it is possible to spend in a pattern that is different than the budget proposed in our application (provided all costs are eligible), the District could be allowed to initially submit reimbursements on say half of the fiscal year 2021 funding (about $80,000), with the ability to submit more requests toward the end of December. That plan ensures that the Town does not give up all of the excess funding before we know about: a) any surprise costs, b) the possibility that the spending period is lengthened beyond December 30, 2020, or c) whether the total FEMA reimbursement is less than expected.