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TOWNSEND — A $4,500 article to fund an update to the town’s employee compensation plan will be on the warrant for the Dec. 3 town meeting.

The previous week, the board decided to wait to discuss and vote on the one remaining article until their meeting on the day before the special town meeting.

“I think there’s a need and benefit for funding an update on the compensation plan,” Town Administrator Andy Sheehan said to the selectmen on Dec. 2.

The salary schedule was accelerated by 2.5 percent last year, but still comes up short compared to other towns, he said. “We’re a little behind.”

When trying to fill vacant positions recently, Townsend had several candidates who declined the jobs because of the low pay. “It wasn’t that we were a little shy,” Sheehan said, “We were way out of the market.”

Chairman Sue Lisio voted in favor of the including the study on the warrant.

“I believe the project is an important one,” she said. “People are saying ‘nah, no thanks,’ because we can’t compete financially.”

“I’m not sure how I feel about it,” said Selectman Colin McNabb, “If I’m unsure, I think we should just leave it up to town meeting to decide.”

He voted in favor of the article.

Selectman Carolyn Smart was not in favor of the expenditure and voted against including it on the warrant.

The project could be done in a few hours for much less money, she said, “I’d do it for free.”

“I would be totally against anyone who’s associated with the town doing this,” McNabb said.

If money is going to be spent on the compensation plan, Smart said she would like to see a comparison that includes not only salary, but benefits. Townsend employees pay a smaller percentage of their health insurance costs than employees in other towns.

“A total compensation study is a different animal,” Sheehan said. Townsend would not compare well to other communities because it does not have retiree health insurance benefits.

In other business:

°The selectmen authorized deficit spending of $75,000 for snow and ice. The town has already spent $90,000 this year, mostly for salt, Sheehan said. The $75,000 amount follows the Massachusetts Department of Revenue recommendation.

°A discussion on designing a sidewalk on Route 119 for all or part of the distance between the center and North Middlesex Regional High School will be on the agenda in January. Lisio asked for the highway superintendent and the Squannacook River Rail Trail Committee to attend.

The town has $100,000 dedicated to designing a sidewalk. The most recent estimate for this work is $283,400, Sheehan said, but the money could be used to fund an engineering study for part of the route. Lisio said the selectmen told the rail trail people that the $100,000 could be used to design a sidewalk in the harbor needed to complete the proposed trail.

°Building inspector Rich Hanks spoke to the selectmen about the cost of permitting for the new high school. The inspectors will be paid from the $350,000 allotted for that purpose in the building budget.

The town can pay inspectors a set stipend each week over the 130 weeks of the project, or could pay by the hour, Hanks said.

The money for the permits would be paid to the town up front, Sheehan said, and payments to inspectors would be taken from that money.

“So it becomes a wash at the end,” Lisio said.

Rob Templeton, the chairman of the North Middlesex Regional High School Building Committee, said he would contact the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the main funder of the building, before the selectmen vote on how to compensate the inspectors.

Fees for fire inspections were not included in the building inspector’s fee schedule.

“We do have to figure out what the fire department piece is,” Sheehan said.

(Since Nashoba papers go to print Wednesday night, coverage of the Dec. 3 town meeting will appear in next week’s paper.)