Westborough selectmen support AVRTS funding request

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By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor

Westborough – Officials from the Assabet Valley Regional Technical School (AVRTS) attended the Board of Selectmen's Feb. 28 meeting to ask for its support for funding for a major repair project at the school.

Superintendent Mary Jo Nawrocki, and Patrick Collins, the assistant superintendent and director of business Patrick Collins told the BOS that the project, estimated at $62.4 million, is strictly for repairs at the school. $53.8 million of that will be reimbursed by theThe Massachusetts School Building Authority Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) if all seven of the school's member communities approve the plan. (The seven towns are Berlin, Hudson, Marlborough, Maynard, Northborough, Southborough and Westborough.)

Needed repairs include the roof, floors, life safety systems, plumbing, and electrical systems throughout the school, Nawrocki said. The emergency generator and science rooms were also in need of maintenance, she added.

She noted that the school, which was built in 1973, had been “extremely well-maintained” over the years and has been debt-free since 1986.

Each town pays an annual allotment based on its residents” three-year average enrollment in the school, Collins explained. Westborough's three-year average is 6.72 percent.

For the proposal, the school used fiscal year (FY) 2011 town-wide taxable values. They assumed, for projection purposes, a 4.75 percent borrowing rate, although administrators were confident they would be able to get lower ones, he added. Based on the 4.75 percent rate, for fiscal year (FY) 2014 the total cost for Westborough would be $2,520, resulting in less than a dollar per household. The highest amount would be in FY 2017 when it would be $161,179 or $20 per year per household.

“$62.4 million sounds like a lot for a repair project,” Collins acknowledged. “But we have the “bird in the hand,” with the MSBA grant and borrowing costs so low. This is now a good time for this project.”

Nawrocki said that the towns must all approve the project by June 30 in order for the school to receive the grant.

Westborough Town Manager Jim Malloy assured the selectmen that there was “no indication that a Proposition 2 ½ request would be required” in order for the town to fund their share of the AVRTS budget.

The board unanimously voted to support the request. It will next come before the voters at the March 17 Annual Town Meeting.