NORTH ADAMS — Mayor Thomas Bernard is proposing the city borrow up to $351,000 for desperately needed repairs to the roof of the city's public safety building.
After what Bernard said is years of neglect, the project would see a substantial portion of the leaking roof repaired early next year.
It's one of two borrowing requests Bernard will make this week, with the other totaling $146,300 for upgrades to the city's information technology systems.
The proposal will be heard on Tuesday at the regular meeting of the City Council, which could vote on it immediately or choose to refer it to a committee for further review. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall.
"This is not a strategic investment in the building," Bernard told The Eagle on Monday. "This is necessary capital investment based on some critically deferred maintenance."
The proposal for roof rehabilitation follows a summer that saw significant leaks in the public safety building on American Legion Drive.
One leak caused damage to a section of ceiling in the Fire Department that needed to be removed. The damage was covered by insurance, but the city must fix the roof above it, Bernard said.
"It's a section that has sprung several leaks over a long period of time," Bernard said. "We need to deal with the roof or we're just going to come back to the same problem down the road."
The roof repairs were outlined by Bradley Architects.
The project is broken into three parts, with a base bid at an estimate of $291,342 and two alternates that would extend the coverage of the roof repairs, estimated at $33,$63 and $25,741.
The base bid alone would encompass the entire area of the building actually occupied by public safety personnel, Bernard noted.
Given the nature of their jobs, the mayor added that it is "just basic respect" to carry out the repairs so first responders "at least are working in a place where the roof isn't leaking as severely it has been."
The city continues to look for a long-term solution to its aging public safety building, be it in a substantial upgrade on the site or in the form of a new building elsewhere.
The hope would be to get 20 years of life out of the new roof, Bernard said, but "that's not saying we're committed to keeping that building as it is for another 20 years.
"The long-term projection on this really is that we're probably still looking at a matter of several years before we can truly move on either a new building or significant upgrades to this building, but we need our public safety building to have a well-buttoned-up envelop," Bernard said.
The debt incurred from the roof repair project would be added to the city's annual debt service payments.
In a separate proposal, Bernard is also asking the council to approve a borrowing request for information technology upgrades at City Hall and other public facilities. The source for paying back the debt would be the municipal technology fund, which is replenished by contractually mandated payments from Charter Communications, the city's cable provider.
"We have again not invested in that infrastructure so we've got a deferred maintenance," Bernard said.
The city's data center was last upgraded in 2011 and serves as the core that connects city buildings and schools and supports software and networking for a variety of city departments.
"The major software systems include the Financial Management System and the Public Safety Software. The Public Safety Software serves Police, Fire, Regional Dispatch and integrates with many other public safety agencies throughout the state," MIS Director Kathleen Wall wrote in an August letter to Bernard. "The financial software serves all City departments, as well the School Administration along with multiple outside state and banking institutions."
The cost of the project is estimated to include $90,000 for data center upgrades and $43,000 for the new phone system, as well as a $13,300 contingency.
The upgrades will hopefully provide the city with "a couple years of stability" as Bernard's administration continues to work toward a long-term information technology infrastructure plan, he said.
Adam Shanks can be reached at email@example.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.