Senator Kelly Supports Bill to Provide Relief for Seymour Residents [New Haven Register]

May 8, 2013

Article as it appeared in the New Haven Register on May 3, 2013

Seymour granted extension for middle school debt payment

By Jean Falbo-Sosnovich

SEYMOUR — Residents no longer need to worry about paying $580,000 for debt remaining on the former Seymour Middle School building project.

Instead, the state House of Representatives this week granted the town a one-year extension it requested. The extension needed to pass the House by May 1.

A bill to push for the special legislation was introduced in January by state Rep. Theresa Conroy, state Sen. Kevin Kelly and state Sen. Rob Kane.

The extension will allow the town time it needs to renew its construction loans on the middle school project “beyond the limits set in state statute,” according to Conroy, and receive state funds to pay the debt off.

“We could hear the clock ticking during this debate,” Conroy said.

Without an extension the town would need to immediately pay $580,000, the amount that accrued during the years the town failed to apply for state reimbursement.

The legislation will now allow Seymour to pursue $1.3 million in state reimbursement.

“With payments due on the construction loan, we had to move fast to make sure Seymour would not be on the hook for a large payment,” Conroy said.

First Selectman Kurt Miller was grateful.

“… it’s certainly a big relief not only to myself but for all the residents of Seymour, as this could have deeply impacted the town’s finances.”

The new middle school opened in August 2001, and construction was technically completed in 2002. The town for the past decade never pursued state reimbursement until just recently. The town was supposed to reapply for reimbursement each year.

Several factors prevented that from happening, including a lawsuit that dragged on for five years over faulty cafeteria flooring, and the town wouldn’t sign off on the project until the suit was settled.

The town’s bond counsel discovered the error last fall when some of the town’s debt was refinanced.

Miller had said the town was aware it had to apply for reimbursement but was unaware of the 10-year timeframe in which to do so. State statutes limit the renewal of temporary bond notes to 10 years from the date of initial issuance.

Miller along with Conroy, Kelly and Kane, testified before state lawmakers last month, urging for the extension.

Miller since directed Tony Casserta, the town’s director of operations, to determine why the town failed to apply for the reimbursement. Procedures have since been instituted to prevent such an oversight from happening again, Miller said.