LYNNFIELD — The town is looking to spend $5,258,429 on capital projects in fiscal year 2024, Town Administrator Rob Dolan said during last week’s Select Board meeting.

Dolan has proposed a $3,030,929 capital budget for FY24 as well as a separate $2,227,500 spending plan that consists of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the town received. President Joe Biden signed ARPA into law in 2021. The town spent $3,885,490 for the first round of ARPA spending last year.

While Dolan explained that the first year of ARPA funds primarily reimbursed the community for COVID-related expenses, he said the second round of ARPA spending will allow the town to make “major investments” in the community.

“These are investments the community would never have been able to afford,” said Dolan.

Dolan has proposed using $742,500 in APRA funds to improve classroom ventilation at Lynnfield High School. He recommended that $715,000 be used to update the air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems at the Senior Center.

“That will improve air quality,” said Dolan.

Dolan has also proposed spending $200,000 to help finance the cost of replacing the dilapidated tennis courts at LHS. The varsity tennis teams are unable to play matches at the tennis courts, which were last refinished in 1991, because they are cracked and damaged. Both varsity teams have been playing matches at Lynnfield Middle School’s tennis courts during the spring sports season.

School Committee member Jamie Hayman, who has been helping Serving Lynnfield organize the Craig Stone Gala, thanked Dolan and the Select Board for allocating the $200,000 in ARPA funds for the LHS tennis courts’ project. The fundraiser’s proceeds will be used to help finance the cost for the new tennis courts in addition to the ARPA funds and a $50,000 state grant that was included in the 2022 economic development.

“I am very appreciative of the support Serving Lynnfield has received from the Select Board and the town administrator, for the replacement of the tennis courts at LHS,” said Hayman. “We are excited for next week’s gala and fundraiser that will hopefully push us over the top financially and allow this project to be completed this summer, benefitting the entire Lynnfield community.”

Dolan said the second round of ARPA spending includes $150,000 for the Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail’s final design. He also said $150,000 is proposed being used to help finance the cost for the new War Memorial that will be located on the green space adjacent to South Common Street and the Town Common.

The town administrator said the ARPA spending plan also includes $110,000 for a large dump truck for the DPW,

$75,000 for two additional police cruisers, $50,000 for a Ford F-150 pickup truck for the DPW and $35,000 for police equipment.

“These are all major investments,” said Dolan. “We would never have been able to fund these projects due to our revenue challenges. We still have a little bit of ARPA money left.”

While Spring Town Meeting will be voting on the town’s FY24 capital budget, the APRA spending plan will not be approved Town Meeting because the town received the funds as part of a federal grant.

Select Board Chairman Phil Crawford said the town is “very fortunate” to have been given the ARPA funds.

“We can use these funds for large projects,” said Crawford. “It’s one-time money and we have used it in a responsible manner for the town.”

Capital budget

In addition to the $2,227,500 ARPA spending plan, Dolan said the capital budget for FY24 totals $3,030,929.

“We have increased our capital budget by over 30 percent,” said Dolan. “We are aggressively spending to invest in our community.”

Dolan said the FY24 capital budget includes $550,000 for road construction. He said the town will also be receiving Chapter 90 funds from the state that will be used for road construction.

“We all recognize that the roads have deteriorated the last few winters,” said Dolan. “But I must say, over the last two years, we have spent more money on our roads than in any time in the history of this community. This year, we are proposing an over $1.2 million investment in our roads. In the past, we have often struggled to fund road construction because we had between $700,000 and $800,000 in local money and state money to spend on them. I want people to know that although the roads are a challenge, we are making the largest investment we have ever made and will do our best to continue that trend.”

Dolan said the FY24 capital budget also includes $800,000 for a new fire engine. The new engine, which has been requested by Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Glenn Davis for the past five years, will replace the 39-year-old Engine 4.

“It is a major investment, but it will take over 24 months for the town to receive the truck,” said Dolan. “It is never cheaper than it is today. We have to invest in that equipment before the cost doubles.”

Dolan also said the FY24 capital budget includes purchasing a new ambulance for the Fire Department, totaling $385,000. He said the capital budget includes two new police cruisers, equaling $110,000.

The town administrator approved both of the School Department’s capital requests. The school system will be receiving $250,000 for technology expenses along with an additional $144,000 for facility upgrades and curriculum materials.

Dolan said the FY24 capital budget includes $65,369 for a new backhoe that will be used at both golf courses. He said the DPW will be using the backhoe as well.

Select Board member Dick Dalton criticized Dolan’s proposal to include a $150,000 alarm bucket truck for the Fire Department in the proposed capital budget.

“I was mistakenly under the impression that was not going to be included in the capital budget,” said Dalton. “Has any sort of an analysis been done on the times we might use a bucket truck versus a rental? I know it has been mentioned the DPW will use it too, but I don’t recall seeing the DPW use the current truck. I have seen the Fire Department use it.”

While Dolan said he originally did not include the bucket truck in the FY24 capital budget, he changed his mind after discussing the request with Chief Davis once again.

“It is used to maintain our wire and pole system,” said Dolan. “We have a contracted employee who uses that bucket truck to maintain that program. I became convinced that we would have to rent a truck at least four times a month in order to address the needs of the wire system. The DPW doesn’t use it a lot, but they do use it during major storms. But the heart of the investment is based upon the wire system.”

Dalton continued pushing back against the bucket truck purchase request.

“I thought there were conversations that particular wire system wasn’t necessary in some people’s minds,” said Dalton. “Obviously that is not the chief.”

Assistant Town Administrator Bob Curtin said maintaining the alarm system allows the town to charge local businesses for using the fire alarm boxes.

“Any business that has a box is serviced through our alarm system,” said Curtin. “That allows us to charge them. We generate significant revenue for operating that box system.”

Dalton requested that Davis appear before the Select Board to discuss the bucket truck request once again.

“We have time to deal with this before we have to approve a budget,” said Dalton.

Crawford agreed with Dalton that Davis should discuss the bucket truck request “one more time.”

Dolan said the bucket truck was the last capital request he approved before the FY24 capital budget was finalized.

“It was the last team to make the dance as they say in the NCAA tournament,” said Dolan. “We put it in at the very last minute.”

“If we are going to compare this to March Madness, I would say this did not rank in the top 64,” said Dalton in response.

Dolan said Dalton raised a “fair” argument, and supported his request to have Davis discuss the bucket truck request.

“We can either leave it in or take it out,” said Dolan.

Dolan also proposed allocating $15,000 for historic signs. He recalled that the Historical Commission had a number of historic signs installed in front of the Meeting House, Centre Congregational Church, Centre Farm, the Pope-Richard Lynnfield Historical Center and the Lynnfield Public Library.

“The Historical Commission has identified key areas of the town that are significant,” said Dolan. “The signs will recognize some of the historic places in town. We are going to place them in different parts of the community so people will know where they are when they see them. I think that is a very nice touch.”