City bonds for big projects, from new garbage trucks to police station upgrade

City officials this week approved about $23 million in bonding for a range of projects, from school roof replacements to sewers to new garbage trucks. However, Mayor Ben Blake said that ultimately the city may be reimbursed for some of its planned expenditures before having to bond for the work.

The bonding was proposed in three separate ordinances at Monday night’s Board of Aldermen’s meeting.

The first calls for $3.89 million for the design and construction of sanitary sewers and other wastewater facility work. Sewer work is planned on Edgefield Avenue and Seabreeze Avenue, and an aeration line will be replaced at the Beaver Brook Waste Water Plant.

These are the three top sewer projects, according to Ray Macaluso of the engineering firm Westcott and Mapes. “There are other projects but these are the most critical,” Macaluso said.

The city will save about $2 million on the project because instead of replacing the Edgefield Avenue pipe it will be relined. Macaluso said the lining will last about 50 years and he said it’s a good option for that project.

A nearby line that runs along Seabreeze Avenue and Edgefield Avenue must be replaced, however, because the size of the pipe needs to be increased from 15 inches to 18 inches due to increased capacity needs.

The aeration line at the Beaver Brook Waste Water Plant pumps air into the aeration tanks where the sludge is located, helping to break it down. Replacing the line will save the money in electrical and other costs because the current line has been malfunctioning, Macaluso said.
Ordinance number two
The second ordinance appropriates about $13 million for various improvements, including sidewalk and curb repaving and construction, new garbage trucks so the city can convert to an automated recycling/solid waste program, roof replacement at the Parsons building, design and construction associated with upgrading the Milford Police Station and money to buy a new fire engine.

Public Works Director Chris Saley said new automated garbage trucks will ultimately save the city money because they will require fewer staff to man them and there will be fewer injuries from staff hurting themselves lifting trash cans.

The ordinance called for eight new trucks, plus containers, carts and other items, but the aldermen cut two trucks from that to save almost $600,000.

Saley said this will be a “huge change” for Milford because it changes the way trash is picked up. He said it’s dangerous when workers have to get out of the truck to pick up the trash: this new system will be fully automated. An “arm” will reach out and pick up the trash can and dump its contents into the truck.

Residents will get new trash toters as part of the plan. Saley expects to roll out the new program by July, and said more information will be forthcoming for residents. After trash collection moves to the new system, Saley hopes to incorporate recycling. Today, recycling pickup is partially automated; Saley hopes to see recycling move over to the fully automated system too.

Even though the new system would require one man per truck, as opposed to three currently assigned per truck, Saley doesn’t envision layoffs. He said staff would be reassigned or not replaced as they retire.

Several Republicans backed doing the trash pickup changeover in phases to lower the total bonding amount, which led to the reduction from eight to six new trucks.
Police station and more
Bonds for police station upgrades total $2.75 million. Mayor Ben Blake said a building committee is in place and has met several times to begin determining if the existing facility should be expanded or if a new station should be built elsewhere. The police department was built in 1970, and the mayor said there are those who say it was obsolete on day one.

The aldermen amended a proposed ordinance to say that money could not be spent on the police department project until further requests come before the aldermen.

The ordinance also calls for spending $2.2 million on roads, sidewalks and curbs; $1 million on beach area resiliency projects; $715,00 on a new pumper/engine, and $1.1 million to resurface and rehabilitate city tennis courts.
Ordinance number three
Finally, after many hours of discussion and debate on the various bonding proposals Monday night, the aldermen voted to approve $6.6 million in bonding for roof replacements at Calf Pen Meadow, Mathewson, Pumpkin Delight and Orchard Hills elementary schools.
Bonding debt
Mayor Blake noted that in some cases, all the bonding approved Monday night will not be needed because some of the projects will be reimbursed by the state or through Community Development Block Grant funds. In past cases, reimbursement has been received before the city needed to bond for the work.

The city currently has $132 million in bonded debt. Responding to questions of concern from Republicans about the level of debt, Finance Director Peter Erodici said that bond rating agencies continue to give the city high scores for the way it manages its debt.