WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Warwick officials are mulling whether to build two brand-new high schools as construction projects across the state start to financially falter.
Voters approved a $350 million bond back in November to pay for the new school buildings, which would replace Toll Gate and Pilgrim. But with prices rising due to inflation, city leaders are worried about the cost.
“You can’t go halfway with this,” Warwick City Council President Stephen McAllister said. “It’s either you can’t do it or you can.”
The Rhode Island Department of Education is slated to reimburse the city for roughly 50% of the project’s total cost.
“It’s going to have to be a local decision, as it was for the bond,” Gov. Dan McKee said. “If they’re short on money, they’re going to have to figure out how to address that.”
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The city is also looking for some flexibility on the construction timeline.
“We are going to seek legislation to extend the period we have for reimbursements from five years to six,” Mayor Frank Picozzi said. “We also want to hire an independent engineering consultant firm to do a study and see if the prices are realistic.”
He added, “As you can see all over the state, construction projects are coming in [over budget].”
If the allotted money isn’t enough, McAllister said the city will have to weigh its options.
“We are doing our homework,” McAllister said. “We only get one shot at this … if we are halfway down the road and [the schools] can’t be built [within budget], the city of Warwick will be stuck.”
“I just want to get an extra set of eyes,” he continued. “I think it will benefit everybody — from the taxpayers, to the schools.”
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