Royalston voters face short warrant at Fall TM

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 10/8/2019 9:50:13 PM
Modified: 10/8/2019 9:50:07 PM

ROYALSTON – The Selectboard Monday night voted to re-open the previously closed warrant for the upcoming fall Town Meeting in order to amend the first of three articles on the unusually short warrant for the Oct. 22 conclave. Two of the articles deal with the operation and upkeep of the town’s wastewater treatment plant and sewer system, while the third seeks a transfer of $307 from the stabilization fund to pay for a bill left over from fiscal year 2019.

Article 1 calls for the transfer of $79,000 from available funds “to effectuate repairs in the wastewater treatment system, including all incidentals and related expenses...” Newly-installed board Chair Deb D’Amico said voters at the annual town meeting provided approximately $40,000 for work to the system.

“Then it came to our attention,” said D’Amico, “that the amount needed was significantly more than that. We then thought it was $78,200, but then, when we looked more closely, it’s actually $79,000. I think we should go with the highest amount, to transfer $79,000 from available funds.”

The second article asks voters to approve an increase of nearly $20,000 in the amount of cash approved at the annual town for the operation of the treatment plant and sewer system. In May, voters okayed an amount of $50,415. The Selectboard wants to see that amount raised to $70,276.

One reason behind the increase requested appears to be the addition of a salary line item to the sewer system/treatment plant budget of nearly $26,000. That amount provides for compensation of $35 per hour for an employee working eight hours per week. It’s expected the cost of this line will drop in FY21, which starts July 1, 2020, to accommodate a decrease in the number of hours worked.

Sewer Commission member Gary Winitzer, however, said there appeared to be a mistake in multiplication when the proposed budget was calculated. He also pointed out that $335 figured into the budget for a right-of-way beneath Pan Am railroad tracks (a portion of the sewer pipe runs beneath the tracks to the sewage treatment plant) shouldn’t be included, because that cost is covered by the town as a whole, not by ratepayers tied into the system.

“That shouldn’t be in there,” said board member Roland Hamel. “We voted $1,200 or $1,300 dollars at the annual town meeting for that.”

Board member Chris Long said, if necessary, the article could be amended on the floor of the town meeting if figures for the budget need to be changed.

Winitzer also said it appears the board is seeking funds for repairs to the Baldwinville Road pumphouse, even though repairs to that station – which had been damaged by lighting – were covered by the town’s insurance company to the tune of $19,000.

“There are people working on this sewer treatment plant right now,” said D’Amico, “and have been for months and months, Gary, and they know way more about this than I can speak to tonight and, I would submit, way more than most of us know. Those folks know what needs to be repaired and what needs to be replaced.”

The board then closed the warrant – again – after endorsing all three articles. The fall town meeting will take place at the Town Hall at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

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