MORRISON – In his report to the selectboard on Tuesday, Town Manager Shaun Suhoski said a number of competitive bids were received for the new elementary school project and the school building committee recently voted to award the contract to Fontaine Brothers. “Their low bid of $31,594,000 is well within the $35,191,363 construction budget, which may mean the town and district ultimately have to finance less than originally projected,” said Suhoski, in his report. Suhoski added, “I was a member of the Burgess School Building Committee in Sturbridge, where we had a very favorable experience with Fontaine Brothers on a $30 million project between 2011 and 2013.” Four other bids received for the Kimball project were all in excess of $32 million. Suhoski also discussed Gov. Deval Patrick’s recent “9C” state cuts which include a $1 million earmark (or a portion of it) for the water line extension along Templeton Road to the North Quabbin Business Park.
“As the board is aware, I have outreached to our existing and elected state legislators requesting more information on the…cuts which did include a $7.1 million reduction to the line item containing the $1 million allocation to the water line,” Suhoski said. “The line item still holds just over $9 million, but it is not clear if all or just a portion of Kimball’s earmark was eliminated.” Suhoski stressed that the cuts do not impact the ongoing MassWorks grant for which the town is receiving approximately $1 million to apply toward the cost of the water line project. The board voted to draft a letter to Gov. Patrick’s office stressing the importance of the project and funding assistance, and requesting details on the recent cuts with regard to the water line earmark.
Further discussing the cuts in his report, Suhoski noted they also impacted a number of education accounts, including regional transportation reimbursements (but not Chap. 70 aid), and other budgets under the state’s executive offices. He added that general local aid does not fall under the governor’s authority and the speaker of the house has publicly said the legislature will not support cuts to local aid. “Of course, I’ll keep monitoring the situation on Beacon Hill and keep the board of selectman and the Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee apprised of information I receive,” said Suhoski.