Seven Things You Missed at North Reading Town Meeting
In a quick night of work, Town Meeting approved a $50 million budget.
Town Meeting met for less than an hour on Monday (after a nearly hour-long delay because there wasn’t a quorum and town officials).
Though it was a quick night of work, Town Meeting did approve the town budget for fiscal year 2013 as well as approved capital items and performed other miscanellous business.
Here’s seven things that you missed at Town Meeting:
1. Town Meeting approved an approximately $50 million budget.
In its report to Town Meeting, the Finance Committee said North Reading will receive $1.3 million under Proposition 2 ½ and new growth. Most of that money though will go to maintain services at current levels, according to the Finance Committee.
The schools received slightly more than $25 million in the budget with the second largest line item for employee health insurance ($5 million).
Though health insurance remains a concern, Town Administrator Greg Balukonis said the expenditure won’t be as large in fiscal year 2013.
Town Meeting unanimously approved the budget.
2. Town Meeting approved increasing the “demand fee” charged to delinquent taxpayers by the tax collector from $5 to $30.
Charging more to those who are behind on their tax bills isn’t about getting more revenue, but about getting delinquent taxpayers’ attention, said Selectman Bob Mauceri.
Former Selectman Joe Veno spoke out about the proposal because he didn’t think a person behind on their bills could afford another $25.
“I don’t think it’s the time to put this onto the homeowners,” said Veno.
Selectman Stephen O’Leary, however, stressed that this increase will be directed at “chronic delinquents.” Homeowners who are having trouble paying their bill can contact the tax collector about their issues, he said.
3. Town Meeting approved transferring $14,726.68 to pay for bills in the prior fiscal year. The money went to pay for medical bills for a disabled public safety personnel and unemployment costs.
4. Town Meeting approved transferred $353,723 from the free cash account to supplement the current budget. That total included $200,000 for the schools, approximately $14,0000 for town administrator expenses (the assessment center for the fire chief position); $32,000 for police expenses (settling payment for a federal grant) and more than $90,000 for fire salaries and fire expenses related to moving to Advanced Life Support in the fire department.
5. Town Meeting approved $179,000 to pay for capital expenditures: $97,000 for an updated water master plan and $82,000 to purchase two Water Department vehicles.
A new water plan is needed because the last one was done in 1992, said O’Leary. The town needs it to update its current Water Department infrastructure, he said.
The Water Department vehicles that are being replaced are a 2001 SUV with 147,000 miles and a 1999 light truck with 97,000 miles.
6. Town Meeting approved $250,000 for school and municipal employee retirements for end-of-career buybacks. Balukonis stressed that the amount is much less than in previous years, pointing to close to $400,000 each year from fiscal 2009 to 2011.
7. At the close of the meeting, Mauceri received a standing ovation from Town Meeting. Selectmen Chairman Sean Delaney, who took over as chair after the election this year, praised Mauceri for his decades of service to North Reading and thanked him for serving as a mentor to him on the board. Mauceri served as chairman of the selectmen for the past seven years.