PEPPERELL — Annual Town Meeting voters wrapped up a 28-article warrant shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday. The second session was prompted by lengthy debate the night before over a $1 million override to fund the 2009 school budget.
Less than half the number of voters who showed up the first night, approved a $918,000 Nashoba Valley Technical High School assessment and OK’d spending $5,000 in new money and $7,400 remaining unspent for a backhoe authorized in 2003 to reconstruct the Varnum Brook School access road.
They followed Finance Committee recommendation to use $8,000 from cemetery lot sales to repair that department’s dump truck, spend $10,000 to buy four defibrillators for the Fire Department, $20,000 in enterprise fund money to move electrical wires to town property at the Jersey Street municipal well site, and not to transfer $2,750 in filing fee receipts to the Conservation Fund.
Replacement telephones for the Communications Department ($9,757) passed unanimously, as did the recently concluded DPW union contract, at 3 percent. The library workers contract was passed over because it is still being negotiated.
The Sewer Department is allowed to spend $20,000 from its free cash account to buy an enclosed work vehicle, and fire Chief Toby Tyler received unanimous backing for a new $30,000 command vehicle.
The fire vote followed an unusually contentious discussion of purchase of one police cruiser for $28,000. This year, police Chief Alan Davis was scheduled to seek two vehicles, but he deferred to provide money for Tyler’s Car No. 1.
Despite Finance Committee recommendation, the purchase necessitated a standing vote.
The need for a $1.6 million police department was questioned but ruled out of order by moderator Scott Blackburn.
Use of more fuel efficient vehicles was questioned, however Lt. David Scott could not answer for the absent chief. The article passed 94-2.
Voters did buck a no recommendation to spend $5,000 in tax revenue to keep the senior tax work-off program alive by a standing 94 to 31 vote.
Finance Committee members did not recommend it because it removes the money from tax revenue in a tight budget year. Phillip Durno argued the program helps fixed-income folks while providing the town a work force without the need to hire. Virginia Malouin said there is a problem with qualifying participants in that married couples may earn up to $50,000; meanwhile not many younger people earn that much.
Former Water Department headquarters on Canal Street will be sold for no less than $150,000 as voters followed through with their previously endorsed proposal to move the department to the former Belmont Springs building on Chestnut Street and sell Canal Street. The $150,000 is the value listed in the assessor’s office.
Communications Director Frank Quattrochi was not given the $14,450 to pay for a 16-hour dispatcher position despite his argument he has seven shifts per week that have just one dispatcher on duty at a time when call volumes are increasing. The move would have reduced that shortfall to three shifts.
Lawrence Library will receive its $3,815 in book fine money which by law, go into the town’s general fund.
A “sunset” bylaw proposed by the Finance Committee was adopted whereby moneys remaining unused in departmental budget accounts are returned to the general fund after three years.