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Quincy council approves spending of $3.8M Honeywell settlement

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  April 2, 2013 04:04 PM

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Less than three months after Quincy received a $3.8 million settlement from a failed energy contract with Honeywell, officials have decided to spend the money on school security, city vehicles, and building upgrades.

The spending plan, suggested to the City Council by Mayor Thomas Koch, included spending $500,000 on school security, $800,000 on new trucks and equipment, and $1 million on the city’s buildings, leaving $1 million to go into the city’s reserves and $500,000 to allocate at a later time.

Some councilors were critical of spending money that was initially intended for energy upgrades on other projects, but ultimately approved the spending unanimously.

“If you want to be orthodox, spend money on assets equal to the class the borrowing was intended to cover,” said Councilor Brian McNamee. “That’s where the rubber meets the road. The rest of this talk is sausage making.”

The city entered a $22 million maintenance contract with Honeywell International Inc. in 2007 for energy-efficiency upgrades. But the city was released from that contract and awarded nearly $4 million early this year after an investigation by the state Attorney General's Office.

According to Honeywell, the dispute with the attorney general mainly revolved around the specifics of the energy contract, which included water meter upgrades in addition to heating utility changes.

However the city is still on the hook to pay off the $32 million loan it took out to initially buy the energy upgrades, placed in more than 50 of the city’s buildings.

Though a portion of the settlement money will go to implement energy upgrades installed through Honeywell, Councilor Doug Gutro said the planned spending won’t do enough.

“It doesn’t seem like two-thirds or half of that might be energy-related,” Gutro said, calling out projects for building code compliance and emergency generator purchases that won’t directly produce energy savings.

Gutro also criticized the city's director of public buildings, Gary Cunniff, for not providing a cost breakdown of how the money will be spent. Cunniff said the money would go to implement an assortment of projects.

In the end, councilors voiced support for the half-million dollars in security upgrades for Quincy schools.

Superintendent Richard DeCristofaro said the updates were in light of the Newtown tragedy, and basically sought to provide school upgrades present in the city’s newer schools.

Councilors also ultimately supported spending almost $1 million on city vehicles as well, though McNamee voiced concerns of allocating the money for that purpose.

“It’s not responsible to have that kind of long-term borrowing and be buying motor vehicles or a street sweeper,” he said.

Vehicles requested include four work vans for the Public Buildings Department; a Recreation Department vehicle; several tailers, mowers, and trucks for the Park Department; a dump truck and street sweeper for the Department of Public Works, and a new car for the fire chief.

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