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Proponents defend big-ticket spending requests before Capital Planning Committee

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TOWNSEND — Two members of the Capital Planning Committee held a work-session meeting on Monday night to start prioritizing purchases for the 2008 budget and beyond.

Theresa Walsh and Joseph Berman spoke first with Building Commissioner Richard Hanks concerning the need for a new SUV or pick-up truck for his department in 2009.

”The truck I have now is a hand-me-down from the ambulance department,” Hanks said. “It used to be Medic One.”

Hanks said the Ford Explorer receives regular maintenance.

”The oil is changed and everything is flushed out on a regular basis,” he said. “The vehicle has 110,000 miles on it, so it needs to be taken care of.”

Berman said if the Explorer is running well, it does not sound like it needs immediate replacement.

Hanks replied that he could probably stretch the vehicle into the 2009 budget season, but a newer vehicle would be his preference. “I would consider taking another hand-me-down, if it were in real good shape,” Hanks said, noting that his vehicle should be a four-wheel drive since many of his inspections are done in rough terrain.

The second person to speak was Water Superintendent Paul Rafuse, who said his department needs a new half-ton truck. The purchase would be funded through water receipts and not from the town budget, he said, adding that the truck would cost an estimated $30,000 to $35,000.

”I estimate high,” Rafuse said. Town meeting approval would still be required for the purchase.

Rafuse said he would like to see the new truck be in service by 2008.

Council on Aging representatives Christine Clish, Eileen Violette and David Profit addressed the committee on putting money aside for building a new senior center, with a target date of 2010.

Clish said the town would be able to secure grant money for the new senior center if they show diligence in putting money aside ahead of time.

”We’ve been working with the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission and they suggested we ask now to put money aside so we can get a matching grant when the time comes,” Clish said.

Profit discussed how constructing a “green” — or environmentally engineered — building would help in obtaining grant money for the project.

”Green buildings are the way to go. They are efficient and expenses are way down with solar, passive solar and all unique materials for insulation,” he said.

”We can also work with the William May Endowment fund, which would be used for the needs of the new senior center once it is built,” Profit said.

Clish said the council wants to have $25,000 set aside annually in fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009.

”We would get $50,000 in grant money in 2009 for design if we have that already put aside,” she said. “That’s how we would be eligible for grants,” she said.

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