Select Board Approves $7.1 Million Proposed Capital Budget

The Bedford Select Board on Monday unanimously approved a $7.144 million compendium of proposed Fiscal 2024 capital expenses, to be presented as a single article on the Annual Town Meeting warrant.

“This is a very scaled-back capital plan,” Town Manager Sarah Stanton told the board, in deference to significant capital expenditures projected for the next few years. “We don’t have any major projects that you haven’t seen before.” 

She added that she has asked department heads to look for alternative funding sources when possible.

Capital Expenditure Committee Chair John Carbone echoed her summary: “We were pulling back on the reins in preparation for the onslaught that’s coming.”

Capital Expenditure Committee Chair John Carbone presented proposals for 34 projects to be added in the capital article for Annual Town Meeting. Image from BedfordTV Youtube

The annual budget is part of a six-year plan, which in later years features a fire station, replacement firefighting apparatus, a school boiler, and roof replacements.

Carbone said his panel met six times, all virtually, between September and November, and reviewed presentations from the schools, three municipal departments (information technology, fire, public works), and the Facilities Department, which bridges town and schools. The six-member committee is augmented by liaisons from the Select Board, Finance, and School committees.

The chair said 34 projects were proposed and all of them are being recommended for inclusion in the capital article for Annual Town Meeting. He noted that five of the proposals are in response to state mandates.

Major components of the capital article are:

  • Road resurfacing: $1,664,153. This is level funded, Carbone said, but the workload has been reduced because of increasing costs of materials. 
  • Repair of the bridge on Summer Street over the Shawsheen River: $960,000. This was part of a capital package rejected by Town Meeting last March. Carbone said this work on “critical structural issues” is required by state government.
  • Department of Public Works vehicle replacement: $647,423, including a large dump truck purchased in 2016. Its replacement is priced at $329,623. 
  • Improvements to the compound at 108 Carlisle Rd., the former landfill, featuring a salt shed, washing station, and storage expansion: $632,731.
  • Replacement of schools’ information technology equipment: $498,900, an annual component.
  • School security and safety equipment: $350,000. Carbone said the specifics will be identified by an ongoing study. “We still need to concretize this,” he said. Plans call for an additional $350,000 in spending during fiscal year 2025.  
  • Ongoing sewer pump station upgrades, water standpipe rehabilitation, and stormwater permits: $350,000.
  • Utilities costs connected to the ongoing realignment of the junction of North and Chelmsford roads: $210,000.
  • Traffic calming and other transportation improvements: $200,000. Among the specifics in this category are a bus shelter, speed bumps, rapid-flashing beacons, and crosswalk signs.
  • Sidewalks and other hardscape improvements: $200,000.
  • Tree master plan and removal of trees destroyed by the ash borer: $150,000. 
  • Town information technology equipment and projects: $147,042.
  • Restoration of the Buehler ponds conservation area near Job Lane School: $140,000. Carbone said the area’s deterioration is jeopardizing the integrity of the ponds.

Smaller capital items approved range from a Fire Department shift command vehicle ($86,039) and school furniture and equipment ($50,088) to a study assessing the need for and location of a  second synthetic turf field ($56,650) and Police Department ballistic vests ($16,110).

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