PEPPERELL -- DPW Director Kenneth Kalinowski reported to the Board of Public Works last week that the snow removal budget was close to zero.

"That last snowstorm pretty much put us at the edge of our appropriated budget for snow removal," said Kalinowski.

He further noted that the snow predicted for March 7 and 8 would likely push the snow removal budget into the reserve fund, depending upon snowfall and temperatures.

A sure sign of spring, though, was the recent mailing of transfer station flyers. More than 150 stickers were sold within the first week.

"We've held the line on sticker and bag tag pricing," said Kalinowski.

DPW budgets for fiscal 2014 will be reviewed with the Finance Committee on March 13. A level-funded general fund budget is expected to be presented as per instructions from the town administrator's office.

"There's been a lot of discussion over the last six months or so about a lot of the needs of the departments and a lot of deferred maintenance, and I hope we don't lose that money that is so importantly needed," said Commissioner Paul Brinkman.

"We accept (the Finance Committee's) recommendations as a challenge and we do try within reason to comply as closely as possible without sacrificing. What concerns me more than that is something the highway budget, where if you're level-funded and you've got step increases, contract negotiations right now with the unions, so on and so forth, the bottom line's not moving -- it's got to come from something," said Kalinowski.


Kalinowski also noted that Water and Sewer Superintendent Laurie Stevens was close to "wrapping up all of those administrative loose ends" that have been described to the board during the past several meetings.

"Laurie's got a dozen administrative abatements basically to square the books from 2002 to present," said Kalinowski.

"We're one step closer to having a clean database," he said.

The request for a proposal for the facilities evaluation and maintenance plan has gone out and responses are due back on March 13. A decision on a vendor is expected at the March 21 BPW meeting.

"It will result in a recommended maintenance and repair plan for all 10 facilities. This is not intended to incorporate any of the sewer facilities that we operate but do not own in Groton," said Kalinowski.

The annual consumer confidence report will be going out to water and sewer customers in June. A recent webinar provided information to the DPW to address how to do it electronically and still meet the state statutes.

"In a nutshell, it involves having a dedicated page on the website," said Kalinowski.

Kalinowski also advised the board that the AFSCME contract negotiations for DPW union employees were well underway.

"We're making some headway," he said.

The current contract expires on June 30.

The town has received a recommendation to enter into contract negotiations with Broadway Renewable Strategies of Boston for the construction of a solar energy facility at the Boynton Street landfill site.

"This company also has the financial and mechanical wherewithal to pull this off in a reasonable timeframe. We've heard some rumblings that the window of opportunity maybe starting to close on some of the energy credits and so forth, so we're positioned pretty well for that," said Kalinowski.

The board approved an abatement request for 18 Ashley St. in the amount of $1,032.85 for water due to a meter reading error.