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Boards Submit their Five-year Capital Requests

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KENT—Kent’s various departments recently looked into their crystal balls and tried to predict what their capital needs will be a decade into the future—no small task considering the precarious nature of the world’s political landscape and the recent experience with Covid, which fueled soaring inflation.

Department of Public Works Foreman Rick Osborne predicts he will need $1.5 million in the coming funding cycle between 2029 and 2035. The money would be allocated for two bridge replacements planned for 2029 and 2032, totaling $500,000; rehabilitation of Camps Flat Road between Geer Mountain Road and Mud Pond Road in 2030 for $300,000; a new wood chipper in year 2032, $125,000; replacing a backhoe in 2033, $200,000; repairs of infrastructure at the transfer station in 2033, $250,000, and replacing a town truck in 2034, $125,000.

The Board of Education had a more complicated request, one Town Treasurer Barbara Herbst advises is not possible as outlined. Anticipating the need for a new roof on the elementary school, the school board has allocated $393,202 in each of six years, starting in 2029 to build the estimated $2,359,212 needed for the project in 2033.

Last spring the school board determined that there would be insufficient funds available in the Capital Plan for the roof, and its Facilities Committee recommended, and the Board of Education approved, a request that $407,705 assigned for sidewalks and paving be moved to the roof line item. The move did not remove the need for paving and sidewalk work, however, so now the school board is requesting that the estimated $301,000 state construction reimbursement for the roof work be included in Capital Plan rather than being returned to the town’s General Fund. A further $106,000 would be budgeted in 2029 and 2030 to achieve the originally budgeted amount of $407,705 for sidewalks and paving.

Herbst informed the school board, however, that estimated funding reimbursements cannot be appropriated and would have to go into the General Fund to be accounted for. After being received, the money could be appropriated through the normal approval process, which requires approval from the selectmen, finance board and taxpayers.

The current five-year cycle included a total of $469,002 ($156,334 in years 2027, ’28 and ’29) for new boilers.

The Kent Volunteer Fire Department submitted a narrative that would call for $400,000 in 2029 to continue amassing funds to replace current rescue apparatus. The narrative notes that material and labor costs, lack of personnel and supply chain issues are contributing the large increases in the cost of apparatus. Delivery times are now more than two years.

“When this apparatus replacement is fully funded in 2029, we hope that the $1,525,000 allowance will be enough to purchase this important piece of equipment,” the department’s letter said.

The company is deferring funding requests for the replacement of Engine 2 because of the cost of Rescue 8. For planning purposes, it is suggesting an earmark of $350,000 each year between 2030 and 2034. The funding would eventually total $1,750,000.

The company is also requesting $25,000 in 2029 to continue funding communications equipment upgrades.

Land Use had no new initiatives to fund, according to Land Use Administrator Tai Kern. Its spreadsheet shows a total of $45,000 in 2029 and ’30 to update zoning regulations and $50,000 in years 2031 and ’32 for a revision of the town plan.

Parks and Rec found itself stymied in a recent meeting by the lack of a Master Plan for development of the town’s two parks. The lack of specific objectives and uncertainty about what prices might look like seven and more years in the future, left the members grasping for estimates. They eventually concluded that the play area at Kent Commons playground will need resurfacing in about six years and that the Kent Commons walking path will need renovation after the creation of a basketball court and splash pad.

By 2031 they anticipate the tennis courts will need resurfacing, with possible replacement of the perimeter fence, and that the playing fields, backstops and benches will need improvements.

The commission plugged in anticipated figures with no particular faith in their accuracy–$25,000 in 2030 for resurfacing the playground; $25,000 in 2031 for the walking path; $75,000 in 2031 for the tennis courts, and $50,000 in 2031 for playing fields.

For town buildings, there is currently $40,000 available for interior painting and carpeting at Town Hall, a sum deemed insufficient to do the entire building. That money can be used to paint and update flooring in the front and back entry areas and perhaps for the first-floor hallway. An additional $100,000 will be needed to paint and carpet all the spaces on the first and second floors, slated for 2030.

The Community House would require $80,000 in 2030 for exterior painting and $50,000 is included in 2031 for flooring in that building. Swift House is budgeted for $200,000 in repairs and upgrades in 2030.

These figures are essentially the boards’ and commissions’ “wish lists” and will be reviewed and adjusted in coming months by the boards of selectmen and finance.

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