BUCKFIELD – Selectmen decided Tuesday to get bids for an engineer and a “design build” contractor before proceeding with plans for constructing a highway garage.

“I feel we’re at the point where we can go no further based on our expertise,” said Town Manager Cindy Dunn. “We’re at a standstill.”

According to Dunn, the estimated cost of the building drawn up by selectmen over the past few months is $200,000, including the required salt storage building and liquid calcium storage.

“Our goal is to stay within this range,” Dunn said. “I think we’re going to be able to obtain this goal one way or another.”

“If you’ve got a sketch you’ve gone over that everyone wants,” said resident Dick Piper, “you could get a design build contractor to draw it up a lot cheaper than you would with an engineer. Even the government is doing it because they can save so much money.”

According to Piper, a “design build” contractor has the same authority as an engineer to officially stamp the building sketches, which would be required for a municipal building the size of the proposed highway garage.

Before seeking bids for a “design build” contractor, selectmen will have to pull together a detailed sketch of the highway garage, including what types of windows and doors they’d like included, and perhaps the number of electrical outlets in a given area.

“Now that we know about this and that it could save the taxpayers money we’re obligated to look into it,” Selectman Skip Stanley said.

Selectmen will review the “design build” and engineer bids at their May 13 meeting and be prepared to make a recommendation to residents at the May 14 informational meeting. If selectmen recommend hiring an engineer to proceed with the project, at an estimated cost of $8,000, a warrant article will be included for the annual town meeting in June, asking voters to allocate the funds to hire an engineer.

“My concern is that we won’t know our estimate is right until we see bids,”said Dunn. “We want to give people a concrete figure.”

Dunn has drawn up two financing options to present to voters, both include appropriating funds from the New Highway Garage Reserve fund. Option one proposes appropriating $50,000 from the 2003-2004 summer roads project.

“This would allow a $50,000 appropriation for the project without a tax increase,” noted Dunn.

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