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New Fire Station On Hold, $1M More Needed

Jun 10, 2019 09:16AM ● By Lisa Redmond
 DRACUT – Taxpayers will be asked to approve up to $1 million at the next Town Meeting in September to fund a new fire station after recent project bids were $500,000 to $600,000 over the $4 million debt exclusion voters authorized last September.
“There are issues in trying to work out with the Permanent Building Committee and necessary financing, so it (the project) is going to be postponed,’’ Town Manager Jim Duggan told the Board of Selectmen last week.
 Duggan said the bid from “the most responsible bidder’’ was over budget so the project will be delayed for six months.
 “It’s disappointing news,’’ he said, “but we want to do it right and move forward in a positive way…’’ Duggan explained that there is a building boom and construction costs are increasing faster than anticipated. “The cost of construction goes up daily."
 He will ask voters to approve borrowing up to a $1 million to be paid for from the town’s general fund. He will not seek another debt exclusion. Last September, Dracut voters approved Question 1, which authorized a $4 million debt exclusion specifically to construct, equip and furnish the new fire station at 539 Nashua Road in the Collinsville section of town.
The new station will replace the existing station at 1990 Lakeview Ave. A debt exclusion is used to finance a particular project. Property taxes increase for a period of time, usually 10 to 20 years, to cover the cost of construction. When the bond on that project is paid off, the tax increase for that project goes away. Selectman Tami Dristiliaris asked about selling some town-owned properties such as the school administration building on Lakeview Avenue.
 “Can we sell it for $1 million?’’ she asked.
 “Potentially,’’ Duggan said. It is a high-profile corner that could be sold for about that amount depending on the buyer. Rezoning the area for business is a “pretty smart concept.”
 The next issue is finding space to relocate the school administration building, he said.
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