WALES — The new $740,000 Wales Municipal Center may sit for weeks, finished but empty.
The reason is money.
Until the new fiscal year starts July 1, there's no money to heat the newly renovated complex, said Sharon Siegel, who serves as Wales' treasurer and office manager.
"We're thinking that if we get in in warmer weather, then we won't have to pay for heat," Siegel said. "We really can't afford to fill the propane tank again until the next budget."
The delay may be very short. Inside, floors are still to be completed and, outside, paving has yet to begin, Siegel said. And by early May, the heating issue will likely be gone.
It will be worth the wait, she said. The new complex — created from the former Wales Central School — will serve as the public works facility, town office and fire station.
"It will be everything," Siegel said.
Since the 1990s, town business has been conducted in a former portable classroom. Here, the code enforcement officer shares a desk with the fire chief, and their office is shared with everyone, including the Board of Selectmen. Heat in the building is poor, and there's no hot water.
"Everybody steps all over each other, Siegel said. "You're working in a 20- by 30-(foot) space."
The squeeze is felt throughout the municipal government.
"We don't have a public works facility," she said. "The road commissioner (Bill Austin) keeps the truck and trailer at his house. He stores things in his father's barn."
Fire Chief Anthony Siderio Sr. welcomes the move. The new location will have three bays instead of two and enough room to easily store all four of the town's firetrucks inside.
But it's more than just added space.
"We're taking a building that died, and we're bringing life back to it," Siderio said.
The school closed about three years ago, when the town joined RSU 4. The renovation project began in October 2012, when the aging 1950s and 1980s sections were razed.
The former school library will serve as the offices. The classroom where the kindergarten once met will serve as public works, and the gym is becoming the fire station.
There will be some continuity, though.
The gym was where the annual town meeting was held. On June 6, the meeting will be held in the fire station.
"It'll be in the same place, just a little bit of a different look," Siegel said.