The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 6, 2006


One hurdle cleared for WWTF state reimbursement

For years Carlisle has waited for word from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) as to whether or not the school's new wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) would be eligible for state aid. The good news is that on September 28, the school received a letter from MSBA stating that the WWTF would be considered part of the school's Link expansion project, which was completed in 1998. The bad news is that the entire project will be subject to the original spending caps set up in the late 1990s when the school believed a much cheaper septic system would be built. The new system was needed because the old septic system failed state Title 5 regulations in 1996. The system continued to function, but was pumped out regularly until replaced by the WWTF. A combination of changing state regulations and abutter legal challenges caused several years of delay and the eventual redesign of the school's waste water system, which was finially completed last spring.

School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman explained that the WWTF costs will be added to the Link project audit now underway by the firm of Melanson, Heath & Company, P.C. MSBA will reimburse the town 60% of eligible costs up to the maximum allowable cost. The Department of Education (DOE) originally approved a maximum of $3,380,688 based on the 1997 allowance of $153 per square foot and the approved project size of 22,096 square feet.

Zimmerman explained that project audits typically take about three months. Once the audit is completed this fall, the MSBA will decide which expenses are eligible for reimbursement and notify the town. Zimmerman said that the cost of the WWTF, at roughly $2.5 million, will make the total expenses greatly exceed the cap set by MSBA. Therefore, in order to have a chance at reimbursement for the WWTF, she said the school will probably need to appeal the initial MSBA award. MSBA has acknowledged the school's reasons why the more expensive WWTF was needed. Zimmerman thought the appeal process was designed to handle this type of unexpected project modification.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito