Portsmouth manager outlines $1.43M in capital improvements

COVID money could pay for much of it

By Jim McGaw
Posted 4/13/21

PORTSMOUTH — Town Administrator Richard Rainer, Jr.’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for fiscal year 2022 includes roof repairs at the fire station, new police vehicles, …

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Portsmouth manager outlines $1.43M in capital improvements

COVID money could pay for much of it

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Town Administrator Richard Rainer, Jr.’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for fiscal year 2022 includes roof repairs at the fire station, new police vehicles, upgrades to the Sandy Point Beach bathhouse and much more.

The list of improvements he pitched to the Town Council Monday night totaled $1,426,823, and the town isn’t looking for a loan to pay for any of it.

“There’s no borrowing associated with this CIP,” Mr. Rainer said, who outlined his recommended method of funding the programs.

Mr. Rainer said the town still has nearly $700,000 in fiscal year 2020 surplus funds, as well as about $200,000 in this year’s contingency fund. On top of that, the town has $263,600 in COVID emergency funds as well as $814,416 in municipal COVID response funds. Those funding sources total $1,977,202.

And that’s not all, as the town is expected to receive additional funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) — $854,000 within the next month and the same amount for next fiscal year — plus another $3.3 million in “county” funds down the road.

That’s about $5 million from ARPA, which will be put in a special account and treated like a grant, Mr. Rainer said. The funds have to be spent within one or two years, and they can be used for a host of projects. Those include:

• Responding to the pandemic or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or to aid impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.

• For premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work (as determined by each recipient government) during the pandemic, providing up to $13 per hour above regular wages.

• For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the pandemic.

• To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

Mr. Rainer said overtime is an eligible expense as are numerous CIP projects such as an overhaul of the Town Council Chambers’s A/V system, a new ambulance, a fiber line link between the Department of Public Works and Fire Department buildings, and emergency management upgrades.

Capital projects

The CIP items proposed by Mr. Rainer include the purchase, replacement or repairs of many items associated with Town Hall, the recreation department, the fire, police and public works departments and more.

“The biggest projects, if approved, will be the fire station roof ($260,000), the new police vehicles (three for $162,532), the Sandy Point beach bathhouse ($202,000), the (parks and) playgrounds ($146,000), and the DPW arm mower ($137,500),” Mr. Rainer said.

The spending plan also includes $875,000 for the road paving program to ensure the town-owned roads stay in good shape. “All our roads overall fall into the satisfactory category,” Mr. Rainer said.

Town Council President Kevin Aguiar said he was pleased with the additional outside funding sources into which the town can tap.

“This is good news on the funding side and will be helpful when we get additional information from the Department of Treasury … early next month,” he said, adding there is also the possibility of receiving additional funding under President Biden’s infrastructure program. “I think this is encouraging. If it continues along this line, we may be able to get some of these capital projects behind us.”

Council member Daniela Abbott said federal grants often are awarded to “shovel-ready” projects, so it would behoove the town to strategize accordingly.

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.