The FHS Building Committee reviewed several options did address the budget shortfall before finally deciding to ask for a budget increase through a referendum. The Committee evaluated the pros, cons, and risks of three options (including a referendum):
Option 1: Use money allocated for contingency and/or Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (referred to as FF&E) to cover the increased construction costs.
The FHS Building Committee concluded that using the contingency fund at the very beginning of the project, before any actual construction had occurred, was not financially prudent. Doing so would not allow the Committee to address any unforeseen problems or challenges that may arise during construction. In addition, any funds used from the FF&E budget would need to be replaced by the Town’s Capital Budget and would not receive the 30% reimbursement from the State. The Committee concluded that this option was not a responsible use of the FHS building project’s or the Town’s money.
Option 2: Further reduce the scope of the project, in addition to the $9.4 million the Committee had already cut out of the budget through several rounds of cost cutting.
Anticipating a higher-than-estimated escalation in construction costs, the FHS Building Committee began looking at ways earlier this year to reduce costs without impacting educational programming. The Committee went through several rounds of cost reductions (called value engineering) and cut $9.4 million out of the project. The Committee also identified another $3.7 million in alternates to be added back into the project if bidding was favorable. Any additional items cut from the project would need to be included in the Town’s Capital Budget in the coming years with no State reimbursement, making these items more expensive to the Town. The FHS Building Committee determined this option was high risk to the project due to the impact on educational programming and long-term costs.
Option 3: Referendum to increase the project budget to cover higher construction costs.
The FHS Building Committee determined that another referendum could cover the budget shortfall, utilizing the additional State funding, and allow for alternates to be included. This would bring the project back into scope of what was approved at the June 2021 referendum. Nothing extra would be included in the project; the FHS facility would be completed just as it was originally presented to the community and approved by voters in 2021.