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Towns must pay more for science center

FALLS VILLAGE — The new Science and Technology Center at Housatonic Valley Regional High School is going to cost about $60,000 more than originally thought, because the state is requiring the school district to comply with prevailing wage laws on the project.Region One School District Business Manager Sam Herrick delivered the bad news at the regular monthly meeting of the Region One Board of Education at the high school on Monday, Jan. 9.The project was unusual from the outset in that all the funds have been raised privately. Individuals and businesses have donated not only cash but in-kind services, materials and volunteer labor.“We were working under the premise that private funds mean no prevailing wage,” Herrick said.The project did receive some federal funds under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka the “stimulus”). Herrick said those funds were used for buying materials, and, it was believed, did not trigger the state’s prevailing wage law, which applies when the total cost of work by all contractors on a new public works project exceeds $400,000 and the total cost of remodeling or rehabilitation of a public works project exceeds $100,000.The total cost of the center will be about $500,000.Herrick said the state Department of Labor got involved as the result of an inquiry from a subcontractor. “We learned that the fact that it’s a public building trumps funding sources,” Herrick said.Herrick asked the board to acknowledge that the additional money will come from the capital reserve fund — specifically, from funds earmarked for roof repair at the high school.Later in the meeting, Mark Burdick, a teacher at Housatonic, expressed the popular mood when he said he was “disappointed” by the news, pointing to the widespread support from the community in terms of money and services.

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