TOWNSEND — At least twice a year, voters in town have the opportunity to take part in local government by attending town meeting. Residents can ask questions and vote on articles on the warrant.
This year, the spring town meeting warrant has 30 articles, some of them routine recurring requests, others deal with financial business and department reorganization.
Town meeting is scheduled for May 5 at 7 p.m. The location is yet to be determined.
First are yearly appointments and reports.
Article 1 authorizes the appointment of town officers. Article 2 allows the hearing of departmental reports. Article 3 appoints three members to the James H. Tucker Fund to keep gravestones, curbing and monuments in good order.
The next group of articles pertains to fiscal year 2015 and prior.
Article 4 is a transfer for the snow and ice deficit. As of the April 7 selectmen’s meeting, the deficit is $325,000, said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan.
Of that deficit, Sheehan recommended paying $175,000 from free cash. The remaining $150,000 might be covered by Federal Emergency Management Agency funds. If not, there is a back-up plan.
The legislature and governor passed an act allowing towns to spread the snow and ice deficit for this season over three years, Sheehan said. “It’s not a practice I like to employ,” he said. “It makes sense to pay a portion of it now.”
Article 5 asks for a sum to pay previous year bills. Prior year bills were paid in January and none are due now, Sheehan said.
Article 6 authorizes a revolving account to pay for inspectional services for the new North Middlesex Regional High School. The funds will come from the NMRHS Building Committee.
Article 7 requests $8,000 for a printer-copier for Memorial Hall and Article 8 requests $3,500 for a mail machine. “We hope to buy them before June 30,” Sheehan said.
Article 9 calls for $7,000 for chipping at the recycling center. Article 10 will likely be $10,000 for employee training. Both of these articles can be held until the fall, Sheehan said.
Article 11 does not have an amount yet. It is on the warrant in case supplemental funds are needed for something not already in an article.
Article 12 is a transfer within the Fire Department-EMS budget from expenses to wages. The transfer will not affect the bottom line of the budget, Sheehan said. No amount is given.
In past years, repairs were done at an outside shop, Sheehan said. This year, the chief hired two per diem mechanics.
Article 13 supplements the Conservation Commission’s land fund by $5,000. This will likely be held until the fall, Sheehan said.
Article 14 funds additional road improvements. This article will be put off until the fall, he said.
The next two article pertain to already collected funds.
Article 15 allows an appropriation of $30,000 from the Water Department Enterprise Fund to pay for the purchase and upgrades of water meters.
Article 16 transfers the fiscal year 2014 fire prevention fines to a fund for training for eligible personnel. Sheehan said the amount will be no more than $1,500.
The remaining financial articles pertain to fiscal year 2016.
Article 17 authorizes the Fire-EMS revolving account. No limit is given.
Article 18 authorizes revolving accounts for the Board of Health with a $22,000 limit; Recreation Commission with a $52,000 limit, facilities maintenance with a $7,000 limit; cemetery internment with a $30,000 limit; fire alarm maintenance with a $4,000 limit; animal care with a $10,000 limit; and inspectional services for the building department with a $75,000 limit.
Article 19 transfers receipts to appropriation accounts. No amounts are listed, but the amounts will show as reduction to requested appropriations in the budget. The funds originate from: cemetery sales of lots, Comcast government access, Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement receipts reserved account, West Townsend Reading Room and ambulance receipts.
Article 20 appropriates $4,000 for the assessors’ inspections and property data verification program. Sheehan said the article is on the warrant each year rather than rolled into the operating budget.
Article 21 transfers $335,000 from the capital stabilization fund to pay debt service.
Article 22 is the fiscal year 2016 budget. The amount is not finalized, but selectmen approved a plan Sheehan presented on April 14 to balance the budget.
Article 23 is supplemental funds for additional trash services. The bids are under review and the base cost for curbside pickup is in the budget, Sheehan said.
Article 24 appropriates $653,200 to operate the Water Department.
Article 25, another recurring article, fixes the salaries and compensation of all elected officers of the town.
The next two articles relate to building a new fire station in West Townsend. The money will likely be borrowed and the debt put into the operating budget, Sheehan said. It is not a planned debt exclusion.
Article 26 asks for $89,000 to buy the Legion Hall and remove or destroy it. Article 27 requests $1 million to build the station.
Article 28 will cover the expenses for the capital plan. Streetlights, a mower, police radios and voting machines, with a total cost of $75,000, will be paid for with capital stabilization funds. Radio control fire alarm boxes, at $54,000, will be funded by ambulance receipts. Repairs to the Witch’s Brook water facility, $34,000, and a Water Department vehicle, $20,000, will come from the Water Department receipts.
Article 29 would amend the Townsend code to include the Fire-EMS buildings in the Facilities Management Department.
Article 30 is a housekeeping article suggested by town counsel when the tax collector’s position changed from elected to appointed, Sheehan said. It gives the collector the power to collect taxes for the town.
More information on the town meeting and the budget will be available on the town website: www.townsend.ma.us.
Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.