The to improve the energy efficiency of town buildings and schools moved ahead Tuesday when the Town Council approved ordinance public hearings for its bonding authorization.
No date is scheduled yet for the public hearings, but town officials are aiming for the last week of October.
The complicated financing arrangement will require the financing package to be split into two parts; a $7,364,800 capital improvement portion and $10,611,970 in bond obligation notes.
But finance director Susan Collier said that would make the project eligible for federal grants and low-interest loans, plus energy-saving credits through the United Illuminating Company (UI), which will give the financing package a 2 percent interest rate over the 15-year project contract with the Honeywell Corporation.
The project includes the installation of new, energy-efficient air conditioning and heating systems, building controls, insulation and solar panels.
Honeywell has promised that the energy-efficiency savings will exceed the cost of the new equipment and capital improvements.
The problem with the public hearing date began when Philips changed the normal public hearing date, Oct. 24, because several Town Council members could not attend that night.
Public hearing items were scheduled for Oct. 19, but that was too early for the required 10-day public notice period for bonding ordinances. So the Town Council approved the public hearings at a "date to be announced."
Both hearings were approved by unanimous 10-0 votes, indicating that the $17 million project has .
At the request of town attorney Timothy Bishop, the Town Council tabled a third vote to authorize Mayor John A. Harkins to sign the contract with Honeywell. Bishop said the contract is still under negotiation.
Councilman Jason Santi (D-4) noted that the Stratford Board of Education is considering closing up to four schools. He asked if that would reduce the cost of the project.
said that issue was under discussion with Honeywell.
Other items discussed at the Town Council meeting
Harkins reported that the federal General Services Administration (GSA) is accepting bids for the Stratford Army Engine Plant, which is owned by the Department of Defense.
The bid opening is scheduled for November 18. The 77-acre property is now officially named "Point Stratford."
The mayor also reported that the cost for the town of the cleanup from Tropical Storm Irene has been computed at $2 million, including the cost of a consulting firm hired to help file claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Harkins said some Stratford UI customers were without power for up to seven days after the storm, which hit on Aug. 28.
He said UI promised to improve its storm response communications and keep customers better informed in the event of future emergencies of this kind.