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Pepperell, state pledge a stronger partnership

By Anne O’Connor

PEPPERELL — When the lieutenant governor arrived in town with a community compact, she was a very welcome visitor.

The compact means money for the town to use that does not come from municipal taxes and a stronger partnership with the state.

“We will knit together a stronger commonwealth,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito when she awarded the compact to town officials on May 4.

“This is a partnership,” she said. “We don’t believe in unfunded mandates.”

The compact will help with two areas of importance Pepperell officials identified: creating a master space plan, and information technology storage and off-site backup solutions.

The final amount of the awards are not known yet, said Town Administrator Mark Andrews. They will be dependent on state appropriations.

The town could see up to $20,000 for the master space plan, he said. The Northern Middlesex Council of Governments will provide $25,000 worth of assistance, potentially leaving the town responsible for $5,000 of the expected $50,000 cost.

The value of the state assistance with IT storage could be as high as $78,000 he said. The process of converting paper documents to digital is very labor-intensive.

The town will be able to apply for additional funds if the state cannot provide the requested amounts. “If not this year, we can apply for next,” Andrews said.

The compact also creates a better working relationship between the town and state, he said. The designation may help in the future in obtaining a state MassWorks grant of up to $1 million that could be used for road improvements, lighting and benches along the Main Street corridor.

“The bottom line is, it helps us,” said Melissa Tzanoudakis, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. Not only does the program provide needed help, it puts the town in a better place to qualify for grants.

Pepperell is the 282nd member of the Community Compact Cabinet, Polito said. The cabinet was formed by the first executive order signed by the governor’s office. It provides help with best practices, efficiency and regionalization, and information technology.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.

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