LONGMEADOW — Reviewing Capital Improvement Plan recommendations for fiscal year 2025 at their March 18 meeting, members of the Longmeadow Select Board focused on potential funding for HVAC system upgrades at the Wolf Swamp Road School and need for increased road repair money.

Covered briefly at the previous Select Board meeting, members explored how to fund the current school needs as well as other town projects through either buying or borrowing.

Member Mark Gold inquired about a letter received by the board from the Permanent Building Committee regarding the recommendation for an expenditure of $700,000 of capital for Wolf Swamp Road School chillers.

“I thought the question we had [at the previous meeting] for the town manager, who appears to have subcontracted it to our CFO, was, if we were to bond that instead what other capital projects could we spend it on?”

Gold stated the memo received did not answer that question except to perhaps indicate spending on roads and sidewalks.

“We didn’t ask about how to bond it,” Gold continued. “We didn’t ask about the best way to bond it, we just wanted to know were there other capital projects?”

Gold pointed to other capital requests that the town was able to approve and move forward with but said if there were no other suggestions or examples brought forth, he would support the use of capital funding for the chillers.

“The question still remains, is there anything on the list that we could move up from [FY26] to [FY25] if we were to bond $700,000?”

Board Chair Thomas Lachiusa, noting that bond money is utilized for other expenditures like ambulances, inquired of town Finance Director Ian Coddington whether moving forward with the project would be better suited for bonding or capital funding within the nearly $9.5 million capital plan.

“It [the chillers] is a primary need right now,” Coddington said. “I think we’ve established that the schools need it so I certainly don’t see a problem with going forward with that project.” Coddington also said the town currently has the short-term debt capacity to accommodate other projects on top of the chiller, including roadwork and the School Department Literacy Project.

Gold responded that those mentioned were not capital items and that he was not questioning the replacement of the HVAC equipment.

“I’m saying fund the chiller, $80,000, whatever, a year for 10 years or twice that for five years, whatever it is and try to bring in a couple of other projects that we can’t otherwise do,” he said.

Vice Chair Joshua Levine asked Town Manager Lyn Simmons how much road paving could be accomplished with $700,000.

“It depends on what type of paving you’re talking about,” Simmons responded. “It depends on the road, it depends on what it needs, if you’re asking me, the money goes towards roads. You can never go wrong with putting more money towards fixing roads.”

Levine concurred with Simmons’ assessment.

“If we can do it, I think that we should put more money towards [roads] now,” he said.

Lachiusa said in all his years on the board he has never heard more complaints about the town’s roads. Per a request by member Vineeth Hemavathi, Coddington outlined the town’s budgetary health and capacity for funding capital and non-capital projects before focusing on the potential shifting of cash.

Gold introduced a motion to amend the capital plan by increasing general fund road paving capital by $500,000 and allowing $200,000 as the first year of a 10-year bonding payment for the school chillers.
The increase would raise road paving general funding to just under $1.25 million.

Lachiusa seconded Gold’s motion and the amended plan received a unanimous vote.