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TOWNSEND — Heading into the last days before Town Meeting, Townsend’s fiscal 2010 budget was still being fine-tuned.

“We need to come up with a budget that gets us to survive the next year,” Finance Committee member Paul Concemi said.

The town has expectations of even less revenue than supposed. The Senate’s proposed budget slashed local aid, and the Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 not to support raising taxes through an increase in meals tax.

Town Administrator Greg Barnes asked department heads to make further cuts in their departments if possible. Any remaining deficit will be taken from free cash.

The final budget proposal uses $161,000 from free cash. The fiscal 2010 budget is $260,247 less than the fiscal 2009 budget.

The Finance Committee agreed with the proposed budget with one exception — Barnes proposed cutting $5,000 from the Board of Health.

“Their revolving fund?” Finance Committee member Paul Nicole asked. “That is solely for the use of the recycling center. As soon as they run out of money, the recycling center closes.”

“If you take that money you better be prepared to write a check personally,” he told Barnes. The recycling center is meant to be self-sufficient.

After an extended conversation with the Board of Health, no cuts will be made to their budget this year.

“From what I understand, they will be self-sufficient,” Barnes said. Some town monies are being used to pay for energy costs related to recycling, and that amount needs to be determined.

Any costs incurred for recycling will be paid for through the revolving account. If money is left in the budget it will return to the town as free cash, Barnes said.

In other cuts, the yearly comprehensive audit was cut.

“It’s nice, but it doesn’t need to be done,” Barnes said of the audit.

The tax collector will cut down postage expenses by mailing tax bills biannually rather than quarterly. The Highway Department made cuts that included the clothing allowance.

Barnes said the Board of Selectmen voted to turn off the lights on the new South Street bridge. After consulting with public safety officials, they decided the lighting was for esthetic rather than practical reasons.

Barnes suggested raising the building permit fees to be more in line with surrounding municipalities.

Finance Committee member Carolyn Sellars questioned the amount of money increased fees could generate.

“They’re not building,” she said.

“Keep in mind they are renovating,” Barnes replied.

Barnes said he has not met with the Board of Selectmen about raising these fees.

Concemi said if the board were holding a hearing to get the public’s opinion on the fees, it should also ask the public’s opinion on raising the local meals tax.

Several of the Finance Committee members spoke in favor of an increased tax.

“It’s an optional tax, and it’s not high,” Finance Committee Chair Andrea Wood said. “The reason we run out of money every few years is because our expenses outstrip our revenues. We have got to raise local revenue.”

“It’s basically a cent on a cup of coffee,” Sellars added.

The selectmen did not pass the tax.

“I’m dead set against it,” Selectman Bob Plamondon said.

The budget was to be voted on at Town Meeting on June 2.

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