HARVARD — Most of the 16 articles on the Oct. 10 Special Town Meeting warrant passed easily and without much discussion.
Among the decisions made, voters:
* Approved a transfer of certified free cash to the stabilization fund. The amount was amended from $305,432 to $285,432. The article passed unanimously.
* Ratified the police union, emergency dispatch and Department of Public Works “collective bargaining agreements.” They agreed to fund each contract with a transfer from certified free cash. The amounts are $44,745, $10,473 and $23, 370, respectively. The three articles passed unanimously.
* Agreed to transfer $212,792 into the school operating budget from three sources. The article called for taking $92,768 from employee benefits, $120,024 from certified free cash, and raising and appropriating $83,150. The article passed with five votes against it.
* Funded the town’s non-union compensation package with an infusion of $38,311. Voters agreed to raise and appropriate $36,821 and transfer $1,490 from the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School account to cover the cost.
Resident William Salter asked the Finance Committee why it recommended the article, since it funds a recurring expense with a non-recurring resource.
Tri-board members grappled with that issue when they discussed whether to fund the contracts with free cash or “go for an override,” said FinCom Chairman Debbi Ricci. With a half-million collars in certified free cash available, she said they chose the former.
“But when the contracts come up next year it may mean an override,” she said.
* Agreed to transfer $73,200 from free cash to fund a one-time health insurance offset for some non-union town employees. The article passed with one opposed.
* Agreed to transfer $294.12 from the stabilization fund to close a deficit in a Local Preparedness grant. The article passed unanimously.
* Agreed to transfer $2,037.52 from the stabilization fund to cover a deficit in the police detail account. The article required a two-thirds vote. It passed with one opposed.
* Agreed to change town bylaws to convert current sick time and vacation time provisions for regular employees into a single, combined compensation called paid time off. Questions included whether paid time off changes the definition of sick time and if it might encourage people to work sick to save time for vacation.
Another concern is that seven weeks of paid time off for a 10-year employee seems excessive.
The old plan provided the same total time benefit, said Selectman Randall Dean.
“This simply lumps it together,” he said.
Asked what sparked the new plan, Dean said the key “drivers” were union contracts.
* Agreed unanimously to authorize a revolving account for the Fourth of July Committee.
In accordance with state law, revenues and expenditures can’t exceed $25,000. The committee does all its own fund-raising, which is typically about $15,000 annually.
* Authorized land transfers and easements to the General Store and Congregational Church.
Selectman Timothy Clark said the store and church share access to a septic system between the two buildings via a deal made years ago with the town.
However, the deal was never formalized.
In addition, a tiny corner of the store building extends past the property line. These articles will clear up ambiguities over ownership and use, he said.
Cemetery Commissioner Bruce Dolimount objected because that property backs up to Center Cemetery. There are state laws about how close an abutting property can come to a cemetery, he said.
He’s also concerned about a right of way that runs through it. Excavation some time ago showed a septic system was built on cemetery land, he said.
Clark said he had no knowledge of that, but it’s not the system these articles pertain to.
The plot plan — voters received a scaled-down version as a handout — shows the proposed easements in relation to the town right of way, said Town Counsel Mark Lanza.
“It won’t be affected,” he said.
Both articles required a two-thirds vote to pass. The one for the General Store passed with five opposed, and the one for the church passed with four opposed.
* Passed by paper ballot a citizen’s petition to censure the School Committee.
* Rejected an article seeking $30,000 to inspect the Harvard Elementary School pumping station for a “package” wastewater treatment plant that serves the two schools and the new library at Old Bromfield.
* Approved an amendment to correct an article from the March Annual Town Meeting regarding the Community Preservation Committee with a wording change.
In total, 382 residents attended the meeting. Town Clerk Janet Vellante said it’s a healthy number for a STM.