Employee pay, real estate top Erving Town Meeting warrant

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-07-2024 4:33 PM

ERVING — Employee compensation and real estate transactions are expected to be the most discussed topics at Annual Town Meeting on Wednesday, according to Town Administrator Bryan Smith.

Articles regarding private property are clumped at the end of the 27-article warrant, while the fourth article pertains to pay increases for the tax collector, town clerk and town treasurer.

Annual Town Meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Erving Elementary School.

Residents will be asked to increase the tax collector’s salary by $2,126, to $22,456, and the town clerk’s salary by $3,174.60, to $30,130.60. Adoption of this article would also increase the treasurer’s pay from $63,702 to $73,264.80. Implementing the increases would not require a change to the current tax levy limit.

“We’re expecting some discussion on that,” Smith said.

The overall fiscal year 2025 budget that is up for a vote is nearly $6.6 million.

One of the later articles pertains to authorizing the Selectboard to lease, convey or otherwise dispose of all or a portion of a property on Care Drive for the development of affordable housing. The town identified the need for senior housing and included it as a goal in its 2002 Master Plan.

“So this has been a two-decade effort,” Smith said.

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Erving has secured a $15.6 housing proposal from Rural Development Inc. that has been approved by the Selectboard. RDI’s proposal for Care Drive involves building 26 units of housing, including age-restricted senior housing for those 62 and up, while also providing multi-generational workforce housing in two other buildings. The project will likely be completed by 2028.

There is a separate article that asks voters if they wish to authorize the Selectboard to acquire a parcel related to the one, taken by the town in 1996, that is now used as the Police Station. During a recent survey of the Police Station parcel, a discrepancy in the deed language was discovered that dates back to all deed transactions related to the property after 1926. The area in question is largely the ravine on the property, between the Police Station and the state Department of Transportation Highway Facility. The plan for the proposed taking is on file in the Town Clerk’s Office.

Adoption of the warrant’s final article would appropriate $3.7 million to demolish structures at the former International Paper Mill site at 8 Papermill Road. The total cost to demolish the site is estimated to be $4.3 million and the town has received a $600,000 grant for the project.

Hancock Academy has expressed interest in the town-owned parcel for an innovation center, complete with dormitories and a cafe, but lacks the finances to take ownership of the entire 6-acre complex. The Selectboard was recently forced to reject Hancock Academy’s lone procurement submission for the site because it was incomplete, as it did not include the statutorily required forms and attestations outlined in the town’s request for proposals (RFP). But Smith said the educational institution can try again.

The property, valued at nearly $1.49 million, has sat vacant for two decades. The town, which took control of the site in 2014, has failed to procure a developer, with varying scales of demolition being considered amid safety concerns, insurance difficulties and future development potential.

The full 27-article warrant can be found at tinyurl.com/Erving2024.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or
413-930-4120.