Preparing for Town Meeting

Discussions about upcoming warrant arcticles or anything else related to Town Meeting.

Preparing for Town Meeting

Postby swamper on Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:32 pm

Table set in Tewksbury
25 articles for Town Meeting approved
By Joyce Tsai, jtsai@lowellsun.com
Updated: 04/28/2010 06:41:19 AM EDT

TEWKSBURY -- It's official: The tables for next week's Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting have been set.

Now voters are invited to mull over a varied menu of budget changes for the coming fiscal year before they cast their ballots on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

Selectmen last night approved more than 25 articles, including a town budget for fiscal 2011. It calls for a balanced budget of $77 million for the town's general fund, a 2.4 percent increase over fiscal 2010 levels.

"The town budget represents an enormous amount of work to prepare for the new budget," said Selectmen Chairman Todd Johnson after the meeting. "I don't think that there are any controversial items -- or will be any turmoil over these items."

Selectman Scott Wilson said selectmen were turning in a balanced budget ahead of their usual schedule. Unlike previous years, "there were no eleventh-hour changes" in an attempt to stave off budgetary gaps, Johnson added.

The most dramatic cut, percentage-wise, in the budget comes from a proposed 73 percent slashing of the community services' cable and television budget from this year, from $13,307 to $3,615. The town also approved a recommendation to cut the police budget from $5.5 million to $5.4 million.

Selectmen recommended an increase in the School Department budget from $47.8 million to $48.8 million, with much of that increase going to Shawsheen Valley Technical High School.

After approving the agenda items for its annual Town Meeting, selectmen moved swiftly to adopt more than a dozen additional measures for a Special Town Meeting that is scheduled for next Wednesday.

Voters will be asked to allow the town to appropriate $3 million for the cost of roadway and drainage improvements to various streets, including the flood-besieged River Road, which was damaged by rainstorms earlier this year.

The town is also asking to borrow funds to undertake those drainage improvements, marking the first part of a five-year plan as officials wait -- and hope -- for federal and state funds to arrive.

"As we all know, in February and March, the drainage system along River Road was impacted greatly by flooding," said Town Manager Richard Montuori.

A proposed drainage project buoyed by federal and state funding has been pushed out seven years, leaving residents frustrated and their homes waterlogged.

The Finance Committee's public hearing on both the Annual Town Meeting warrant and Special Town Meeting vote is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at the Tewksbury Town Hall Auditorium.

Town Meeting is at 8 p.m. Monday at Tewksbury Memorial High School. Special Town Meeeting is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Tewksbury Memorial Hall.
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