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Capital plan takes effect with purchases now, other purchases planned in the fall

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TOWNSEND — Planning for capital expenditures came before the joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee on Tuesday, but only part of the “wish list” would be considered.

The Capital Planning Committee is asking that $109,090 be placed into their fund at the May 2 town meeting, with only half of that amount spent. Plans are in place to purchase a Kubota mini-excavator for the Cemetery Department, a fire prevention vehicle and firefighting gear for ten new firefighters, and to set aside $10,000 toward the design of a new Senior Center building. These three items would total $50,000.

The rest of the money would be held until the fall town meeting, where the Capital Planning Committee will recommend asking voters for a debt exclusion to purchase equipment for the Highway Department, the police, and for parking lot work for Memorial Hall.

Capital Planning Committee member James McCormick said his group looked at all requests submitted by all departments, as well as the total inventory of vehicles, before settling on this course of action.

”I was quite shocked at how outdated our vehicles are,” McCormick said, “so with the capital plan in place, we will have a blueprint to plug things in as money becomes available.”

”As for a debt exclusion in the fall, we know it’s better to make several purchases at a time instead of just one,” McCormick added.

Town administrator Gregory Barnes said the set-aside for the Senior Center design fund was dropped from $25,000 to $10,00 so the town could address the issue of outfitting new firefighters.

Finance Committee Chairman Donald Klein, who is a captain on the Fire Department, said safety gear for firefighters is expensive but justified.

”We have outdated safety gear, which is a hazard,” Klein said. “If we don’t update our gear, plus outfit any new members that want to join the department, we will have major problems.”

Capital Planning member Joseph Berman outlined the items to be addressed following the debt exclusion.

”We would be looking at a six-wheel dump truck, a gas-pump canopy and roadway paving for the Highway Department. The police are looking for body armor replacement and the parking lot annex would be in there, too,” Berman said.

Selectman Chairman Daniel Murphy voiced concern over holding off the highway purchases any longer than the fall town meeting.

”We told them last year we would do something for their department, so I hope we can at least do the dump truck for them,” Murphy said.

Selectman Peter Collins commended the capital planners and the Finance Committee for their dedication and hard work in getting the capital plan off the ground.

”The downfall with capital planning is that plans have been assembled in the past, but there were never funds put aside,” Collins said. “I believe this is a great first step to establish this fund for all of our capital expenses.”

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