By Chelsea Feinstein
TOWNSEND -- The Board of Health will be asking residents to vote on whether to adopt lower trash limits at fall Special Town Meeting, rather than the July 31 STM as previously suggested.
Although no vote was taken because the Health Board was not posted for a meeting when members attended the selectmen meeting Tuesday night, the board is expected to vote to do so at its next meeting.
In the meantime, the town will continue to allow residents to throw away three bags of trash, or 99 gallons, each week.
A reduction to two barrels, or 64 gallons, had been set to go into effect before a 2-1 Board of Health vote stalled enforcement pending a Town Meeting where voters could decide. Board of Health member Jim Le'Cuyer made that motion after receiving complaints from residents about the new limits, which some said were too restrictive.
Selectman Colin McNabb said he preferred to wait until fall, rather than bringing the issue up at the July 31 meeting, which was called to address a citizen's petition calling for a nonbinding resolution against a proposed natural gas pipeline.
"I'm just hesitant to open the floodgates for all the departments to start throwing warrants and motions and things into the mix," McNabb said.
Though the Board of Health said the $625,000 the town had budgeted should still be enough to cover the three-barrel limit, Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan said he would have budgeted more if he had known earlier that the BOH would choose to stay at the higher limit.
"I'm not comfortable with what's budgeted. We might be okay, but it's hard to change horses at this point in the game," Sheehan said.
The fixed portion of the trash contract increased by about $34,000 from last year, Sheehan said, and the town had been relying on reduced tonnage fees to make up the difference in the level-funded budget.
Selectmen Chairman Sue Lisio said she want to know what the trash budget will look like going forward, and whether the BOH will still try to save money on trash pick-up by eventually instating the two-barrel limit, which had been proposed to save the town money.
"My hope is that from a town perspective and from an overall budgeting perspective, that we have some view as to what the future holds for us," she said.
Resident Tom Daley spoke out against the two-barrel limits, saying that Townsend residents had previously approved a Proposition 2 1/2 override to fund trash pick-up.
Although Sheehan said that the extra tax revenue does not have to be used for that purpose after the first year, Daley said it should be returned to residents if it isn't being used for trash removal.
"If something is earmarked, to me, it should be used for that," Daley said.
The board voted 3-0 to approve the warrant for the July 31 Special Town Meeting, with just one article, a nonbinding resolution opposing the natural gas pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.
The meeting will be at 7 p.m., but a location hadn't yet been determined. Selectmen are considering Hawthorne Brook Middle School, because of the possibility that the turnout could exceed the 350-person capacity at Memorial Hall, where Town Meetings are usually held.
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