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.