$1M for Town House slashed to $500K; State cuts funding in half to help erase budget deficit.

AuthorMiner, Bradford L.

Byline: Bradford L. Miner

NORTH BROOKFIELD -- The $1 million Town House rehabilitation project appears to be a partial casualty of the state's effort to erase a $329 million budget deficit before the end of the fiscal year.

Selectmen this week received an email from the Executive Office of Administration and Finance saying the $1 million line item spearheaded by state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, had been cut in half.

Robert J. Smith, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the board had contacted the state seeking additional information.

"We've not yet received written confirmation beyond what was in the email,'' Mr. Smith said.

He said the news was immediately passed along to the Town House Advisory Committee, which has been meeting for several weeks establishing priorities to seal the historic Main Street landmark against further water infiltration.

Peter Shipman, Town House Advisory Committee chairman, said the impact would likely be a scaled-down project, but the priorities would still be the roof, the dormers and the gutters.

As the money is a line item in the state's current fiscal year budget and must be spent by June 30, Mr. Shipman said the committee is working as quickly as possible to launch the rehab project while complying with state procurement and bidding regulations.

"The work has no imminent public health or safety component, and is not considered an emergency. As such we have to follow the state's timeline,'' he said.

Mr. Shipman said the committee hopes to have an architect in place by the end of December.

"We may not be able to do as much as we had hoped, but I still think all of the work to secure the building against further water damage is possible. The committee will move forward on that basis and hope there is no further cut in the money we have to work with,'' he said.

Mr. Brewer said the line item for the Town House project initially had been zeroed out this week and he had lobbied the governor hard to keep $500,000 in place.


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