ASHBY — Voters in Ashby will have some difficult decisions to make at the town meeting in May.
The one override article on the warrant seeks to raise money to fund the positions and programs cut to balance the fiscal year 2010 budget. The cuts were made because of reductions in state aid.
Selectman Peter McMurray said this article will be of utmost interest to townspeople. The total amount needed to fund employee stipends and training, the summer band concerts, two highway workers and one police officer is in this one article.
“There’ll be line items for people to look at,” Selectman Dan Meunier said. This will give the voters an opportunity to fund individual items, rather than the entire amount while the article is on the floor during the meeting.
The total dollar amount of the article is not known at this time. Town administrator Linda Sanders said, “The expenses will be estimated. We can put it in the explanations.”
McMurray and Meunier spoke about the importance of town residents participating in government and sharing their informed views.
“We do need people to get involved,” McMurray said. “Write your senators, write your representatives. If we don’t get your involvement, we’re going to get shot down.”
The town needs people locally also, McMurray said. “Linda (Sanders) has a running list of what openings we have available (on town boards).”
McMurray said he hoped the next town meeting would have as many people in attendance as the special town meeting in March did. The meeting was held to decide whether to have a Proposition two and a half override vote to fund more work on a proposed police station.
If the article had been passed at town meeting and at the town election, the proposed building would then be shovel-ready, enabling Ashby to apply for stimulus money to fund the construction.
Many people at the last town meeting did not understand the purpose and process of the meeting, according to McMurray.
If voters at a town meeting pass an override article, it means an override proposal will be placed on the next ballot for a town election. McMurray explained the process twice at the town meeting and again during the selectmen’s meeting.
Sanders said she will have a document available at the next town meeting to explain how town meeting works.
People were apparently aware of the work done by the building committee prior to town meeting, McMurray said. There were repeated requests at the meeting for an explanation of the alternatives to building a $3 million police station.
“The building committee worked on that project for 18 months,” McMurray said. “I was surprised at how many people didn’t know what was going on. I was shocked.”
He said the committee was acting on the request of the selectmen to study the feasibility of a facility to last 20-40 years. Different alternatives were discussed by the committee during their meetings.
“They put hours and hours into this. All the meetings were public,” Meunier said. But very few people outside of the committee attended.
“Get involved,” he urged. “You’ve got to dig a little deeper.”