TOWNSEND — The Townsend Board of Selectmen whipped through the entire agenda and adjourned 14 minutes after calling the meeting to order Tuesday night.
Town Administrator Andy Sheehan announced that the state has approved an application by the Energy Committee for the Green Communities Grant in the amount of $156,000 to put towards several future projects for town-wide energy reduction. First on the list of projects are energy audits of town hall and the public-safety complex, as well as the installation of IdleRight, idling reduction technology for police cruisers.
“We’ll be doing that on a trial basis,” said Sheehan.
Police Chief Erving Marshall announced the end of the department’s bicycle helmet-safety program. Throughout the spring and summer, cyclists seen wearing helmets were given certificates to be entered into a raffle; at the end of the season, names are drawn and the chosen recipients are awarded $150 gift certificates to Gear Works Cyclery in Leominster.
Selectmen drew the names of this year’s winners: Alexis Aubuchon, Aiden Murray, Cassidy Thibodeau and Kalee Chapman.
In other business, Karen Waxman was appointed to a vacant position on the Library Board of Trustees until the April 2013 elections. Karen Clement was appointed to a vacant position on the Amanda Dwight Entertainment Committee until elections.
Two items were deleted from the agenda, including awarding a contract to replace shingles on the police station roof. Sheehan said $25,000 had been appropriated by Town Meeting and that the town had received seven bids, the lowest at $20,064. However, due to a typographical error on the listed references, he was holding off on offering a final recommendation until the next selectmen’s meeting.
“Some of the phone numbers didn’t jibe with the references so we weren’t able to check all the references,” he said. It is the town’s practice to check references of bidding businesses.
“Occasionally, we get into situations where the low bidder doesn’t check out,” said Sheehan. But, he added, “one reference so far has been extremely positive, so if the others come back anywhere close to that, we’re ready to move forward with (a recommendation) next week.”
The closing of the town’s budget deficit was not mentioned during the meeting. Following adjournment of the meeting, selectmen said the cuts voted upon at the Nov. 14 Special Town Meeting had already been enacted. Departmental budgets were cut; however, no town employees were laid off.
Because some of the funds used to close the deficit were non-reoccurring, such as ambulance receipts from the Fire Department and use of some free cash, the town will begin fiscal 2014 with a structural deficit of approximately $200,000. Selectmen plan to begin discussions immediately of how to close that gap.
“It’s going to be very challenging,” said Selectman Nick Thalheimer. “There’s going to be a lot of work to do between now and then.”