PEPPERELL -- After revisiting discussions of three Special Town Meeting warrant articles from their previous meeting, the Finance Committee voted to recommend articles 3, 4 and 12 to the town.
Article 3 asks residents whether they will vote to appropriate funds for the Highway Department to purchase a used wood chipper. Article 4 asks the town whether they will vote to appropriate $4,500 to have the carpets cleaned in Town Hall and the public safety building. Article 12 asks if they will approve the town to sign a tax increment-financing agreement with Masy Systems, Inc.
The vote came after presentations from Ken Kalinowski, director of the Department of Public Works, with Peter Shattuck, superintendent of the Highway Department, and Laurie Masiello, CEO of Masy Systems.
Without a chipper, said Shattuck, all of the brush in the road has to by removed manually and hauled off site. According to a written statement the department provided, the average cost of running a brush operation is $1,200 a day. Using their own chipper would cost about $800 a day. This does not include savings that would be gleaned from isolated incidents such as the October 2011 snowstorm or the average annual cost of $3,000 to contract a tub grinder for the brush accumulated over the year. In addition, the chipper would reduce time spent on brush operations, resulting in the employees being able to complete other tasks. The chipper would cost approximately $47,588.
"In four to five years, it would pay for itself," said Kalinowski.
Kalinowski said he expects the chipper to last at least 15 years.
During her presentation, Masiello described the tax increment-financing agreement. The company plans to make improvements to its property by adding an ultra-low temperature freezer. It is asking for an exemption from a percentage of the tax increase that would result from the improvements. The agreement would be over 20 years and the exemption percentage would lower in five-year increments, beginning at 90 percent and ending at 10 percent.
Masiello and Melissa Tzanoudakis of the Finance Committee approximated the company's savings from the exemption to be around $1,000 a year for the first five years. Tzanoudakis said she supported the agreement, but suggested Masiello create a presentation for Town Meeting that would clearly explain the amount of money that the company would be exempt from.
"Looking at 90 percent might look a little scary if people don't understand what the improvement is, even if it is a good idea," she said.
The vote was 4-1, with Forrest Roush voting against the recommendation, saying he was not clear on what the agreement was asking for.
"It's short money, I get that, but I'm not in favor of voting for something I don't understand," he said.
The committee voted on article 4 after Tzanoudakis provided members with an email sent by Town Administrator John Moak. Last week, the committee questioned whether it would be as cost effective to replace the carpets altogether rather than having them cleaned. Moak's email supplied an estimate to replace the carpets at approximately $51,000.
Town Meeting will be held Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Nissitissit Middle School.