Budget transfers of $680,000 will cover Schlumberger work

With tenants progressing on renovations at two town-owned Schlumberger buildings, the town plans to allocate $680,000 needed for Schlumberger Phase I site work — parking lots, roads drainage and landscaping — through budget transfers.

Because the expenses can be covered with transfers, First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the selectmen, approval of voters at town meeting isn’t necessary, though the finance board’s agreement will be needed for the transfers. The plan has the blessing of the Board of Selectmen.

The Schlumberger Phase I work is to be financed from two sources:

  • $480,000 would come out of the state’s annual grants to the town for road work  — the “Town Aid Road” account.
  • $200,000 would come from a projected $298,000 surplus for the current 2017-18 town departments budget.

The selectmen voted unanimously on March 8 to approve the $200,000 transfer from the projected surplus — moving the money from salary accounts that have extra funds, mostly due to a partial spending freeze adopted by the town early in the fiscal year in anticipation of potential state cutbacks. The $200,000 in transfers included $70,000 from fire department salaries and $65,000 each from salaries at the police and highway departments.

The site work includes creation of a “loop road” out of the two Schlumberger driveways off Old Quarry Road. Some of this might be accomplished by the Highway Department, working within its allocated paving budget for the current year, Marconi said.

“This gets us to the point where we’re fulfilling our obligations,” Marconi told the March 8 selectmen’s meeting.

The town had committed to doing site work at the Schlumberger property in voter-approved lease agreements with the tenants who are repairing and renting the two buildings on the property — the design firm BassamFellows in the Philip Johnson building and the ACT of Connecticut theater group in the nearby auditorium. Those agreements also commit the tenants to millions of dollars in renovation work on the two buildings, and both projects are progressing.

“BassamFellows located the original drawings for the Philip Johnson building, and is following the original design,” Marconi said, meticulously preserving the building as imagined by the renowned architect — except for changes required to meet today’s codes.

The ACT of Connecticut theater group, which is leasing and renovating the old Schlumberger auditorium, plans to open its season with the musical Mamma Mia! on June 7.

“When I read that, it was a wake-up call,” Marconi said. “We need to get hustling on this.”