Town Deliberative Draws Low Resident Turnout
Current and former town officials outnumbered regular citizens at the annual meeting.
Seats weren't hard to come by at this year's town deliberative session as less than 35 residents, mostly current and former town officials, came out for the brisk meeting.
Adjourning after just one hour, only a single question came from a resident during the session. The meeting was rescheduled to Monday night due to the weekend blizzard.
Windham resident and Board of Selectman candidate Alan Carpenter asked the board why the funds to replace 23 Self Contained Breathing Apparatus Units are being risked as a warrant article rather than being replaced in the budget.
Carpenter was concerned after Fire Chief Tom McPherson commented that the current units, purchased in 2002, are "deficient" in meeting the 2007 edition of the National Fire Protection Association 1981 standards.
The department is still waiting to hear back on a grant that if awarded would make the town share just $10,143. The replacement of the SCBA units also appeared on last year's ballot, but that article was contingent upon a similar grant that was not awarded.
Town Administrator Dave Sullivan said that the money is not there to fund the units in the budget and if the article fails, the town will unfortunately "wait another year."
Selectman Kathleen Difruscia urged the public to support the article, which will appear as no. 10 on the March ballot.
Town Moderator Pro Tempore breezed through the reading of the rest of Articles 4-20, only getting comments from the board members on stage.
Selectman Ross McLeod commented in support of Article 18, which calls for revised language to the Town' Sunday Sales Ordinance which would see the town regulate Sundays like any other day of the week.
"It's just to simplify things, treat Sundays like any other day of the week and reduce another level of bureaucratic structure that really doesn't need to exist in this day and age," he said.
Other articles of note include nos. 6-7, which are related to Searles School and Chapel improvements.
Article 8 will ask for Windham to raise and appropriate the sum of $75,000 for network infrastructure improvements. A version of the article was supported by the Capital Improvement Plan Committee, but not the complete version that will appear on the ballot.
Some other expense items include $84,600 for Windham Police mobile communication upgrades (Article 9) and $175,000 for the purchase of a 5-ton Highway Truck (Article 10),
Article 20, which is the town's proposed operating budget, was also moved to Town Meeting without debate. The total operating budget represented in the article is $12,253,466,79.
A regular Board of Selectmen meeting originally scheduled for Monday night was postponed.