TOWNSEND — The town moderator’s comment of “I think we’ll try that one more time,” rang out time after time during the town meeting. Several voice votes were too close for John Barrett to determine whether or not the motions passed.
Despite a promise of a quick meeting by Town Administrator Andy Sheehan, numerous proposed articles and amendments to the budget made for a long evening on May 5.
A motion made by Recreation Commissioner Alice Kennedy for an amendment to the budget to add $20,400 to pay for the salary of the recreation director passed.
The Recreation Department receives no financial support from the town, she said. It incurs additional expenses because it must follow town procedures in giving raises to seasonal employees and it must pay for pre-employment physicals.
No other town employee is not paid by the town, said Recreation Director Emy Hoff.
Town employees should be paid by the town, said James Normington, a resident in town who is not a voter. “Young people deserve a break.”
Someone from the floor asked if a nonvoter could speak at the meeting. Barrett allowed it.
The amount requested by the department was not included in the budget because the town was forced to fill a $250,000 shortfall in the budget as the result of increased school expenses, said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan.
The final general fund budget for the town, with the salary added, was $18,729,904. The additional $20,400 will be taken from free cash.
Two articles pertaining to building a new fire station in West Townsend passed. Voters approved $1 million for construction and $159,000 to purchase and demolish the Legion Hall on Main Street.
The new fire station will keep three stations in town, said Fire Chief Mark Boynton. A new center station is being built by a private donor.
The selectmen and historical commission plan to meet to discuss the implications of removing a historical building, said Colin McNabb, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
The cost of borrowing might be covered within the operating budget, Sheehan said. By the time a permanent loan comes due, other debt will have been paid off.
If it cannot be covered by the operating budget, a debt exclusion could be considered at a later date, he said.
A bid by Board of Health member Jim LeCuyer to increase the amount budgeted for curbside trash pickup failed. A supplemental article for additional trash services was passed over when it came up. LeCuyer was no longer at the meeting.
Other requests for funds were passed.
Town meeting transferred $175,000 from available funds to cover the snow and ice deficit and approved $8,000 for the purchase of a copier/scanner/printer for Memorial Hall.
The assessors received $4,000 for required inspections, an item that is on the budget every year, Sheehan said before the meeting.
To pay debt service, $172,247 was transferred from the capital stabilization account.
The capital budget included streetlights, cemetery equipment, police radios and voting machines for a total of $75,000 from capital stabilization. Another $108,000 for fire alarm boxes, a water department vehicle and repairs was funded by available funds from the two departments.
Town meeting also approved forming a revolving account to pay for inspectional services for the new North Middlesex Regional High School that will be funded by the project. Existing revolving accounts were authorized and money from receipts were transferred to appropriation accounts.
Sheehan based his predication for a short meeting because of the number of articles that would be passed over, or have no action taken. In all, nine articles requesting funds were passed over.
The selectmen decided to put off most of the additional funding because the snow and ice deficit was so large, he said.
“We did not want to use all of our free cash at this time,” Sheehan said.
The motion to withdraw an article to provide additional funding for roadwork drew dissent. Resident Meg Genoter said she was quite concerned that the town did not want to spend money on needed improvements over the summer.
“The roads are a mess,” she said.
The town is committed to improving the roads, Sheehan said. Because additional state aid for roadwork was expected, the selectmen thought the additional funding could be put off until the fall, he said.
There really was no place to hide for voters.
After two voice votes were too close for Barrett to call, he enlisted the counters for a final tally. Voters had to stand and be counted to find out if the article would be passed over.
The article was withdrawn, with 76 voting aye and 36 opposed.
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