Selectmen Approve Budget of Nearly $13 Million
Warrant articles account for $740,000 of the total.
Selectmen approved $740,000 in warrant articles, accounting for a proposed town budget of nearly $13 million at a public hearing on Monday evening.
The proposed budget would represent nearly a 4 percent increase in the town’s current budget, and would mean almost 16 cents would be added to the tax rate, now at $23.05 per $1,000 of valuation.
The budget could change depending on voter decisions in March or developments during the year that may affect property valuation and revenues. Selectmen are also exploring the idea of a department consolidation for maintenance, public works and Transfer Station prior to the town deliberative session on Feb. 9.
In the meantime, Selectmen were able to trim $4,900 from the budget, withdrawing from the CART transit service that currently costs about $13,000 a year to operate. The remaining $8,000 will instead be used to budget for its existing van service, which enables residents to call the town and schedule a ride.
Highlighting the proposed warrant articles is a $100,958 bond that would give the Searles Building a facelift with a new septic system, exterior painting, landscaping, along with a host of other repairs.
“From a financial standpoint, this bond would work similar to the one we did in 2002,” Town Manager Dave Sullivan said. “We took a 10-year-bond for previous renovations at the chapel.”
Last time around the town put together a bond that was used to revitalize the 104-year-old building in a number of ways, but with plans for increased use in the future, maintaining its condition has become a high priority.
“This is money well spent and I hope the community realizes that,” Selectwoman Kathleen DiFruscia said. “This [the Searles Building] is a very valuable asset.”
A warrant article for new breathing gear for firefighters makes its second appearance in as many years on the ballot, with an estimated cost of $202,867. The Fire Department filed for a government grant to cover 95 percent of the cost of the equipment in June, but have yet to receive a response.
Chairman Bruce Breton is optimistic about the outcome.
“It is good news we haven’t gotten a rejection notice,” he said. “That’s a good sign we might get the grant.”
Voters can also expect to see warrant articles for the purchase of a highway truck, as well as police communication and town computer upgrades.
Residents will get their chance to vote on all warrant articles and a final approved budget when the polls open on March 12.