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Correspondent

HARVARD — Town officials will ask voters to pass a $200,000 tax override to fund the fiscal year 2009 omnibus budget at the May 21 Special Town Meeting.

The override figure is a substantial comedown from the $786,000 override bid that failed at the Annual Town Meeting in April.

The warrant the Board of Selectmen sketched at its May 6 meeting will also call for tapping the stabilization fund to pay for four items the Capital Plan Committee recommended. The four items, listed as separate articles with dollar figures attached, total $200,000. Each one requires a two-thirds vote to pass.

The first item asks for $25,000 to replace the aging boiler at the Department of Public Works (DPW) barn with two oil burners. The new heaters, which run on reused motor oil, would service the maintenance bay and storage area, with propane gas heaters to heat the break room.

If the price tag is too high, it can be amended down on the Town Meeting floor, selectmen said.

There was much discussion about the merits and drawbacks of using recycled fuel. Some said it burns dirty and presents storage problems in the off season.

The board also talked about sealing and insulating the drafty building to improve heating efficiency.

The second item calls for purchasing two new trash compactors for the transfer station, for another $25,000.

The next item would put 26 fans in half as many classrooms at the elementary school. Rooms on the second floor get uncomfortably hot and stuffy in warm weather, said selectmen Chairman Leo Blair. Because the fans were donated, only the installation cost — $10,000 — is needed.

But the fans are a “Band-Aid,” said Selectman Timothy Clark, not a solution. He argued that the cause should be identified.

The same goes for the DPW barn, he said.

Blair called the last item on the list a “no brainer.” It calls for replacing two old boilers at The Bromfield School — one of which is leaking — with two new, smaller boilers.

The cost estimate is $140,000, said Finance Director Lorraine Leonard, but bids are still coming in.

Resident Rene Roy asked whether alternative energy sources had been considered instead, such as a geothermal system. He said he knows someone in the field and would provide the information to Leonard.

The board didn’t completely dismiss the idea, but they said there might not be time to explore it, since the job has to be done this summer.

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