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Selectmen Split Vote on Budget Review

by Bobby Blair
January 18, 2018

Selectmen Wednesday approved a number of budget requests for the 2018/19 fiscal year. The Public Buildings, Economic Development, and Zoning Boards budgets were presented by Town Administrator Jeff Ritter. Ritter also noted that the Building Inspector's Department request of $134,471 was inline with the Finance Committee's suggested guidelines and that department had brought in $430,000 this past year in permit fees. Selectmen approved those budgets.

When it came time for their own budget, presented by Ritter, selectmen at first made no recommendation for the lack of a second on Mark Ahronian's motion. Returning to the subject several minutes later, the board entertained an increase in the budget from $261k to $277k. The stumbling block was a suggested 1% increase in personnel wages from the Finance Committee vs a 2% increase which the board had approved at a previous meeting on a 2 to1 vote. Citing monies collected from town hall rentals to cover the 4.47% increase, Ritter said the increase was from a part-time clerks increase in hours. Chairman Kevin Conley and Mark Ahronian voted in the affirmative for the increased budget, while Jay Marsden who has cited sustainability in previous meetings voted no.

In other matters, the board signed engineering contract papers for the design of a culvert on Westfield Drive. The brook flows into Houghtons Pond and has been the scene of other engineers, namely beavers, doing construction work in the past year. Chief Mike Cassidy above told the board he had received several grants in the form of $708 and $2,415 which will be used for education. DPW Chief Sean Reese noted that the town's snow and ice budget is now 60-70% expended.

 

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