PEPPERELL — Residents dispatched a full slate of warrant articles in economic fashion at Town Meeting Monday night, with spending issues topping the ticket.
In a series of motions that went largely unchallenged, the 122 residents voted first to approve a fiscal 2012 municipal budget of $11,457,864, a 6.5 percent increase over the current budget of $10,760,015.
Subsequent voting included approving assessments for the town’s share of expenses for the North Middlesex Regional School District and the Nashoba Valley Technical High School of $10,433,715 and $991,163, respectively.
The only hitch came when resident Ann Adams took the floor to urge voters not to support the North Middlesex budget on the grounds of fiscal irresponsibility and lack of long-term planning.
Adams also objected to salaries paid to Superintendent of Schools Maureen Marshall and an assistant in an arrangement to share their time with the Quabbin Regional School District.
Rebutting Adams’ claims, School Committee member Arnie Silva rose to defend the Quabbin connection in general and Marshall in particular.
“There is no fiscal irresponsibility,” declared Silva of the way the district conducted its finances, adding that the district lost nothing to Quabbin because of the superintendent’s hard work.
For her part, Marshall gave a presentation to Town Meeting prior to voting on the school budget, which she described as being “level-funded” at the cost of at least 40 employees having been cut from the payroll.
Citing continued cuts in state funding and a 20 percent drop in overall school enrollment, the superintendent told those attending Monday night’s Town Meeting that she had little choice but to make the cuts.
“We have been incredibly negatively impacted by the economy,” explained Marshall.
Voters also approved a number of capital-spending measures, including the purchase of a new cruiser for the Police Department at a cost of $35,000.
In addition, residents also allowed questions regarding the expenditure of another $35,000 for a second cruiser and $35,000 for the purchase of such police equipment as radios and tazers to proceed to a ballot vote on election day.
Approved also were appropriations of:
* $3,385 for the purchase of books and other supplies by the library.
* $10,000 to replace large garage doors at the Department of Public Works (DPW).
* $36,000 to replace DPW sander units needed for distribution of sand and salt in the wintertime.
* $35,000 for the purchase of a used six-wheel dump truck for the DPW.
* $43,000 for the purchase of a new dump truck for the Cemetery Department.
* $30,000 for a four-wheel drive pickup truck for the DPW.
* $75,000 for the DPW to cover the cost of relocating wires and poles related to the Jersey Street well site.
* $95,000 for the DPW to clean and evaluate a number of town well sites.
* $9,480 of remaining funds to be used by the DPW for the installation of alarms, cameras, and fencing at the town’s various public water facilities.
* $165,000 for the purchase of a new ambulance by the Fire Department.
* $418,243 for the resurfacing of roadways around town, an amount to be 100 percent reimbursed by the state.
Also Monday night, residents voted to approve an amendment to the town’s zoning bylaw governing the installation of small wind energy devices; adopted a measure exempting residents who are active duty military personnel serving outside the United States from excise taxes; and exempted members of the Massachusetts National Guard and Reserves from personal property taxes.