SHIRLEY -- When selectmen reviewed the Annual Town Meeting warrant at their meeting Monday night, the draft document contained 19 articles. One more item is anticipated that is now being reviewed by Town Counsel, bringing the total to 20.
With the order of the articles still a moving target and subject to change, numbers three through six in the current draft deal with budget matters: omnibus budgets for the town, the Sewer and Ambulance Departments and for solid waste and recycling. respectively.
Subsequent articles call for approving the Capital Stabilization Plan and budget and funding it and appropriations for capital purchases, with funding sources identified.
About half way through, an article proposed by the War Memorial Building Trustees calls for repurposing funds approved by a previous Town Meeting. As Administrative Assistant Kathi Rocco explained, the appropriation was for kitchen and bathroom repairs. As it turned out, after fixing the most pressing problems, there's not enough left in the fund to continue the job, so the trustees are proposing to spend the money on another needed item instead.
Moving down the list, the next articles seek Town Meeting approval of the salary classification plan and wage scale, debt management transfers, property tax exemptions (sponsored by the assessors) and to authorize the wastewater connection for the Lura A. White Elementary School.
An article, submitted by the treasurer, asks the town to accept deeds on an eight-acre parcel of land on Abigail Lane, while another calls for the sale and conveyance of town-owned land on Main Street, now used as a municipal parking lot.
Two routine articles seek to establish and re-establish revolving funds. It was noted that the Council on Aging wants to set up a fund for van transportation, with funding that exceeds last year's amount by about $10,000, rising from $43,000 to $52,000. The amount went up due to increased mileage and fuel costs and to pay salaries, COA Treasurer Frank Esielionis explained.
The last two articles ask for Town Meeting's OK to accept and spend state highway funds -- Chapter 90 -- this year and to transfer to the stabilization fund if there's any money left.
The Energy Committee, which Chairman Andy Deveau established some time ago to get a handle on the town's energy bills, won't be forwarding an article at Annual Town Meeting, but plans to present its initiatives at a later special town meeting.
With Deveau back from Florida, the full, three-member board convened at the table for the first time in several weeks, but he ceded the center seat to acting Chairman David Swain. As Deveau pointed out, Swain has been handling those duties during his absence.
Deveau, whose resignation takes effect before the April 30 election, thanked his colleagues for carrying on without him and said it was fitting that Swain should continue as chair until then.
Two police cruisers authorized for purchase at the previous Town Meeting have arrived and are on the road, Swain said, but the price tag for one of them was higher than budgeted for because it's an upgraded model. Instead of a Ford Crown Victoria, which the company no longer makes, the new vehicle is an Explorer, which cost $2,800 more.
The selectmen agreed to cover the difference with freed-up funds from the middle school building account established to pay for punch list items and incomplete work. With no more bills coming in on the long-completed project, and some of the contractors with unfinished jobs to do now out of business, the account has a surplus of about $62,000.
When the board discussed the issue before, they said it was time to free up those funds. A motion to do so now passed unanimously, as did a second motion to spend $2,800 of the money for the stated purpose.