NEW SHARON — Voters will gather at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Cape Cod Hill School to decide whether to spend $1.8 million for a new town office and fire station.

After months of work, selectmen and the building committee have agreed to propose the least expensive option to address the fire station and town office needs, Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Lorna Nichols said.

The proposed option would demolish the current Town Office and build on the site, which the town owns, she said.

The special town meeting is taking place now, instead of waiting until the annual town meeting in March, so that contractor bids can go out in early 2018 if voters accept the proposal, she said.

If the town waits until March, it would be late spring before bids could go out and many contractors would already have lined up work for the year. The costs would likely also be higher, she said.

If accepted, selectmen and the committee would like to see construction take place next summer and finish before winter.

Last fall, the town’s insurance company said they would stop coverage of the fire station because of structural issues, mainly the roof.  The company has continued with coverage because a building committee, appointed by selectmen, was working on the issue.

But that is not the only problem, Nichols said. Firetrucks have to be modified, at extra cost, to fit in the station, she said.

Also, the municipal building has a leaky roof, black mold in places and asbestos throughout the building, she said. Annual costs to heat the building are high.

After looking at several options, the cost to renovate the municipal building was so close to the cost of a new building that both selectmen and the committee agreed it would be better to start over, she said.

It is a good time for the town to tackle the project because it currently has no debt, she said.

To finance the project, voters will consider taking a 12-month loan for the construction phase through Camden National Bank at an interest rate of 2.54 percent. They will be asked to then take a 30-year loan at 3.5 percent interest through Rural Development, which would pay off the bank loan, she said. Monthly payments would be $8,082 for 360 months to pay the total debt of  $2.97 million, she said. 

Voters will also consider selling the fire station property and using that and the balance of the Fire Station Reserve account, about $300,000, on project costs to help reduce the debt burden, according to the warrant.

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