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Andrews says coming revenues to help with state cuts

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PEPPERELL — At the end of his first day, Town Administrator Mark Andrews reported to selectmen with mostly positive financial news.

Just before Thanksgiving, Gov. Deval Patrick announced cuts that, if approved by the Legislature, could mean cuts to unrestricted local aid and could affect regional school transportation, Andrews said Monday at the selectmen’s meeting.

“Very shortly, we’ll see the November revenues come in,” he said. “That may take out the sting” of the governor’s cuts.

Andrews is working with other town officials to make a plan to collect outstanding back taxes. The outstanding property and personal taxes, and water and sewer liens come to around $346,000.

Before publishing names in the newspaper to collect arrears, “we will give everybody in that pool a chance to come forward,” he said. “Pepperell is compassionate enough to take in peoples’ needs.”

Another group is taking a hard look at the utilities, particularly telecommunications, Andrews said.

Office arrangements in the town have changed and the group thinks the town can pick up about five figures in reduced yearly expenses.

The town has also come a step closer to collecting $39,703.56 in federal reimbursements for a storm Oct. 29, 2011.

“Things were submitted in a timely fashion,” said Chairman Michael Green, but the town just received paperwork to process the claim from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The paperwork was sent in September.

Once the claim is submitted for partial reimbursement for the expenses, it will take some time for the check to come in, said Peggy Mazzola, administrative assistant to the town administrator.

The selectmen also discussed allowing special municipal employee designations.

The designation would allow members of a board a little more latitude, said Ken Kalinowski, director of the Department of Public Works.

The designation was brought forward by the State Ethics Commission especially for smaller communities, he said.

“When working for or with the town, small towns, people need to wear multiple hats,” he said.

For example, some members of the Board of Public Works have jobs where their companies could be in a position to bid on a town job.

“Technically, they would be benefiting financially,” Kalinowski said.

“Are electricians and plumbers scared off of volunteering in town because they can’t bid on projects?” Green asked.

Andrews said he has reached out to town counsel about the designation and whether it should be used for all boards or on a case-by-case basis. He has not yet had a reply.

The selectmen will take the topic up again at their next meeting.

In other business:

* Selectmen approved the appointment of Susan McCarthy as the director of the Council on Aging. She served as interim director while the search was conducted.

“You do a great job,” said Selectman Stephen Themelis. “I’m so glad you’re here to step forward.”

* Selectmen appointed resident Brian Dunigan to the Cable Television Advisory Committee. Dunigan has lived in town for 18 years and wanted to get involved. He saw the vacancy listed on the website and volunteered.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.

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