Capital Improvement Plan Helps Ensure Consistent Tax Impact

October 18, 2019

 

 

by Len Lathrop

The goal of the Hudson Capital Improvement Plan is to anticipate the impact of future capital projects on the taxpayer and to recommend a funding schedule that mitigates these impacts, providing a consistent and predictable tax bill.

In early spring 2019, the Hudson Planning Board established a committee to devise a plan to collect submissions from all town departments, boards and committees.  Submissions were received from the Benson Park Committee, engineering department, finance department, police department, school district and the sustainability committee.

Capital projects are defined as a non-recurring expenditure for a project or facility with a useful life of a least five years and generally involving a gross expenditure of at least $50,000, excluding scheduled vehicle replacement.

The tax impact assumption for this plan, the average single-family home is assumed to be $300,000.  A project with a cost of $30,000 would impact the tax rate by 1 cent, then an ASFH would see a $3 increase to their tax bill.  Bonds and funds from the unassigned fund balance have different effects on the impact.

All three of the town leadership groups have accepted and approved the plan.  The planning board, budget committee and the board of selectmen all have applauded the plan and the extensive work the staff and committee members have put into it.

Recommendations

The Hudson Capital Improvement Committee makes the following recommendations based on:

  1. Review of the written submissions (Appendix A – Project Identification Sheets),
  2. Presentations made by the applicants (Appendix B – CIC meeting minutes),
  3. Other relevant and available documentation, such as deeds and bond schedules.

Benson Park Committee

Haselton Barn Roof Repair – Estimated Cost $80,000

The deed that conveyed Benson Park to the Town of Hudson from the State of New Hampshire identifies structures of historical significance and requires the town to maintain them in the condition they were in (or better) when received by the town. As such, the town has an obligation to prevent the Haselton Barn from falling into disrepair, although the deed lacks specificity on the exact baseline condition.  Town officials are currently working with the NH Division of Historic Resources to determine a reasonable expectation for the future of this barn as it serves no functional use without significant investment that would be above and beyond the town’s deed obligation.

TheCapital Improvements Committee recommends the Haselton Barn roof repair be postponed until the state has completed its review of the barn’s historic status. 

Kitchen Building Roof Repair – Estimated Cost $60,000

Although the Benson Park deed only requires that buildings be maintained in the condition received or better, DHR has directed the Benson Park Committee to install the clay tiles original to the building.  When received by the town, the kitchen building had a temporary roof and contained stock of the original clay tiles, but not enough to complete the roof.

The committee recommends the kitchen building roof repair be considered in fiscal year 2021 to prevent further deterioration, while engaging DHR for assistance in offsetting these costs. 

Engineering Department

Twin Bridges Rehabilitation – Estimated Cost $975,000

Postponement of this project will significantly increase rehabilitation costs as the bridge further deteriorates.  Additionally, this project will require coordination with the City of Nashua.

The committee recommends this project for fiscal year 2022 with anticipation that an agreement can be reached with Nashua during fiscal year 2021. Furthermore, the committee urges the town to aggressively pursue negotiations with Nashua.

Lowell Road Bridge Rehabilitation – Estimated Cost $500,000

The committee recommends rehabilitation of the Lowell Road Bridge prior to the Lowell Road and Birch Street Intersection update, as recommended by the engineering department. 

Lowell Road and Birch Street Intersection Update – Estimated Cost $2,500,000

During the time of this CIP process, the engineering department engaged a consultant to develop design alternatives for this intersection project, which includes utility relocation, bridge/culvert reconstruction, and road construction.

The committee recommends continuation of the alternatives study to determine a design and coordinate with the Lowell Road Bridge rehabilitation project, so that both are completed in a timely fashion. 

Speare Road and Melendy Road Culvert Replacements – Estimated Cost $500,000

The committee recommends the culverts’ replacement schedule as proposed by the engineering department.

Traffic Light Upgrades – Estimated Cost $200,000

These upgrades are ongoing and funded by traffic impact fees which are collected from new developments.  These upgrades place no burden on the taxpayer.

The committee recommends the engineering department continue upgrading traffic lights as the fees are available.

Finance Department

Town Hall Expansion – Estimated Cost $964,000

This project proposal identifies the capacity and programming constraints currently existing in town hall.  The consensus among the CIC was that there is a need for improvements to available workspaces, ADA accommodations, security, building efficiencies, and convenience to the public.

The committee recommends an alternatives and feasibility analysis be done for potential town hall expansion and/or relocation scenarios in fiscal year 2021 or earlier before making a decision on whether to proceed with an expansion.

Police Department

Police Station Expansion – Estimated Cost $5,000,000

As explained in their submittal, the police department is severely constrained by their current building size.  At the time of its construction, roughly half of the planned square footage was built.  Since their original submittal, the police department has taken several steps to reduce the project cost, such as retaining the existing holding cells rather than include them in the expansion and proposing a car canopy rather than a garage.

The committee strongly recommends the police station expansion project for fiscal year 2021.

School District

Alvirne High School Renovation – Estimated Cost $18,000,000

The school district reduced the scope of the Alvirne High School renovation project and proposed a schedule to allow for cost savings by dovetailing it with the Palmer CTE project, which broke ground August 2019.  The district plans on funding this through a 30-year bond.

The committee recommends the Alvirne High School renovation to commence in fiscal year 2021 to take advantage of the cost savings and construction efficiencies associated with the Palmer CTE project. 

Early Learning Center Full Day Kindergarten – TBD

Specifics of this project are still being determined.  This project may or may not require capital investment.  In the event that it does, it may be eligible for the use of impact fees since it is a capacity-related project.

The committee makes no recommendation as there is currently not enough information. 

Hudson Memorial School Athletic Playing Field Renovation – $350,000

This project has the opportunity to be phased in over two years.  For example, renovate the soccer field in year one and then address the football field in year two.

The committee recommends the Hudson Memorial School athletic playing field renovation project be phased over the course of fiscal years 2023 and 2024. 

Roof Replacement and Paving Projects

  • Roof Replacements – Hudson Memorial School – estimated $500,000; Library Street School – estimated $250,000; Hills Garrison School – estimated $250,000
  • Paving Projects – Estimated Costs for Dr. H.O. Smith School – $100,000; SAU – $150,000

As standard procedure, the school district schedules roof repairs and paving projects in a chronological cycle, as opposed to doing them all in one year.  There is an opportunity for partnership between the town and the school district in bringing the school district into the town’s paving program.  Essentially this means combining the buying power of the town and school sides to reduce total costs.

The committee recommends to the board of selectmen and school district the exploration of a partnership in the paving program. 

Sustainability Committee – While not truly CIP projects, listed with no estimated cost

The Building Energy Efficiency Program proposal was met with enthusiasm by CIC members.  However, as the concept is an annual/reoccurring program, it does not meet the one-time expenditure criteria of a CIP project.

The committee recommends this program concept be reviewed by the board of selectmen for possible inclusion in future annual budgets.