People listen Wednesday during Randolph’s annual Town Meeting. From left, Board of Selectmen members Robert Henderson, Chairperson Mark Roberts, Matt Drost and moderator Mary Denison. Emily Duggan/Kennebec Journal

RANDOLPH — Voters in Randolph were asked to reject the $250,000 in additional funds for the fire station at the annual Town Meeting on Wednesday night after the select board revealed that the bids for the project had come in much higher than expected.

So much higher, that officials now estimate the current project would cost about double its price tag.

The Board of Selectmen received the construction bids on Tuesday, a day before the Town Meeting and said bids for the project increased by an additional $1.2 million. The additional costs brought the proposed cost of the fire station to come to an estimated $2.55 million, a price that Randolph officials say they’re not willing to pay.

Board Chairman Mark Roberts, who works in construction, told the nearly 20 members in attendance at the meeting it’s not uncommon for bids to be this high with the increased cost of labor and materials from inflation.

“We have a low-bidder. We are going to work with them and a value engineer, which might be able to bring costs down,” said Roberts. “We are going to shift the start (of the project) from fall to spring and explore that. If we don’t get what we want, we can re-bid.”

By value engineering, the select board said they can redesign in a cost-effective way.


The total town budget, voted on at Wednesday’s annual meeting that was moderated by Mary Denison, was proposed at $2.8 million — a $410,304 increase from last year’s budget. Since the $250,000 request toward the fire station was not approved, the budget passed by the town is $2,635,964.

Out of the 1,405 voters in Randolph, about 25 showed up Wednesday to vote on the warrant articles.

Randolph officials hope to start construction with a $1.2 million bond already approved for the project two years ago, and move forward clearing the land for the fire station.

Board of Selectmen member Matt Drost and Roberts pointed out that in order to approve the next round of money for the project, the town will have to have a special town hearing to do so at a later date.

Residents at Wednesday night’s meeting seemed upset about the fate of the fire station, but said they were appreciative of the select board bringing the issue to them. One resident asked why the select board believes costs might go down even as inflation appears to continue driving most expenses up.

“We have a committee of folks who will consider the design and we can find alternatives for funding through grants or loans,” said Drost.

The issue of appropriating the money for the fire station was the 21st article out of the 51 warrant articles the town voted on Wednesday night and was the only article that did not pass. Every other article passed with no adjustments.

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