LINCOLN – School leaders met with the Lincoln Town Council on Monday to go over the finer details of a proposed revolving fund for school projects, covering a slew of unanswered questions.

Since school construction projects are eligible for reimbursements from the state, the revolving fund would be seeded with reimbursement money gained from the current physical education center at Lincoln High School, plus the sale of the former Fairlawn Elementary School.

Using those pools of seed money, each project would help pay for future ones.

School and town officials say they are supportive of the fund, but they’ll need to work out some procedural concerns to ensure they’re complying with state law and the town charter.

Presenting to the council on Monday, School Committee member Mario Carreño said the purpose of the revolving fund is to “maximize state funding to renovate Lincoln schools without impacting taxpayers.”

“There’s a lot of state money out there for school construction,” he said, noting the $250 million school construction bond on November’s ballot.

He said Lincoln’s discussions about a revolving fund are timely, since just last week the General Assembly extended housing aid bonuses through December 2023. With proper planning, Carreño said Lincoln could be eligible for millions in reimbursement money.

Explaining how the fund would work, Carreño said Lincoln is targeting a 54 percent reimbursement rate on its $8.3 million physical education center, which would provide $4.5 million in state aid for the next project.

The town is also hoping to seed funds from the sale of Fairlawn to Blackstone Valley Prep.

The benefits of a revolving fund, Carreño said, include having the ability to plan ahead for school projects, saving taxpayer dollars, securing better pricing via early bidding, and prioritizing Capital Fund 50 for municipal projects.

The Town Council was generally in favor of establishing the fund, but procedural questions remain. Councilors questioned who would be approving specific projects if the fund was created, and who would oversee those projects once approved.

After some discussion, Town Solicitor Tony DeSisto said he’d seek an opinion from the auditor general to answer the council’s questions about process and procedure. Once those concerns are addressed, the council would need to pass a resolution to establish the fund.

(6) comments

johnpicozzi

The tax rate is set. Any received funds as you know is additional money. There’s only one $4.5 million dollar figure I know about and that’s the reimbursement from the PEC. The sale of Fairlawn is not guaranteed to come to the school department. If it does, that would be great because there is so much work to be done to our schools. It’s a constant. If this revolving fund goes through, we may actually have the opportunity to catch up on the Capital side by requesting a lot less money for projects.

I believe the town & school are doing their best to limit the spending and looking for additional revenue streams. The only thing both sides can hope for is effectively managing both budgets where there is minimal impact to taxpayers as the years go on. Cost of living goes up and budgets do. Everything goes up.

There’s no scheme and everything is transparent. It’s just that there’s always work to be done. Always trucks that break down, boilers, old buildings, and keeping up with modern times with learning environments.

johnpicozzi

Just a little surprised that a former school committee person and town council member doesn't want show support for this positive development. It's a win-win for the community as a whole if you look at it from an unbiased and open minded perspective. This concept also has an effective leadership element to it as Mr. Carreno's plan has an end in mind.

John Flynn

In the March 31, 2021 edition of the Valley Breeze your Business Manager says the cost would be $4.5 million after applying reimbursement from the State. I am saying the same. It sounds like you have a scheme to spend the $4.5 million on other projects. I think that is wrong and an insult to the taxpayers.

I don’t object to using funds from the sale of Fairlawn school to seed this proposed fund.

johnpicozzi

It's a valid effort by Mr. Carreno to introduce a revenue stream where the pool of money comes from incentives from different projects the school department takes on. Like a rebate(s). It will lessen the burden on taxpayers, we don't always have to rely on Fund 50 from the town, it is an effort to show the town we are looking for more ways to be financially responsible, and to strengthen the relationship we have. It's a win-win. I hope the Council & Counsel come back with great news and it's facilitated.

John Flynn

It is a win win for the School department, but not for the taxpayers.

John Flynn

When Mr Carreno says “without impacting taxpayers “ he has created a false narrative. The impact to taxpayers is $4,5 million not to mention the sale of Fairlawn school.

The physical education center at the High School should cost the Lincoln taxpayers $8.3 million less state aid of $4.5 million or $3.8 million.

The proposal apparently favored by the Town Council will have the Lincoln taxpayers footing the bill for $8.3 million. They are going to take the State aid and use it for other unknown projects. The state aid should be used for intended project which is the physical education center.

The taxpayers should not be footing this bill. $4.5 million is a lot of money.

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