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Police patrol time increasing in New Salem; Swift River School finance formula changing

NEW SALEM ­— There will be about 20 additional hours of police patrol each week and the formula used to determine the town’s elementary school costs will be changed slightly, after voters had their say at a three-hour annual town meeting Monday.

Forty residents — a turnout of about 5.5 percent of registered voters — approved New Salem’s $2.46 million budget, including $1.47 million in education expenses.

Voters allocated $23,338 in additional spending for the Police Department — including $19,788 to cover the salaries and equipment for two additional part-time police officers. Town officials said this will answer residents’ requests for more patrol time and this will provide coverage every day of the week.

Beginning in fiscal year 2015, an agreement between New Salem and Wendell to pay for the Swift River School will change slightly. Each town’s share will be based on a five-year average of students, instead of a single year’s enrollment — an attempt to stop constant fluctuation in the spending from year to year. Enrollment changes increased the town’s allocation this year by $25,000 (to about $720,000) on the school’s level-funded budget.

5 projects get go-ahead

Five previously approved projects, which are paid for by Proposition 21∕2 overrides, were reaffirmed by voters Monday: $38,293 towards a roof/boiler project at Swift River School, $23,486 towards Ralph C. Mahar Regional School construction; $17,024 towards the fire department’s brush truck and fire station exhaust system; $13,862 towards library construction; and $11,130 towards a highway department truck.

Following a lengthy discussion, voters struck down, 23-17, a $7,280 allocation that would have been used to keep the Town Hall open during the winter. Town officials had acknowledged that there was not enough information on potential heat and maintenance expenses, and voters expressed fear that the costs would exceed the allocation.

The town allocated nearly $37,500 to the Fire Department: $12,500 for a new breathing apparatus, $13,431 for the renovation of a bathroom and $11,500 for the station’s siding repairs. Residents expressed a desire for the Police Department to also see building improvements and town officials said a proposal will come soon at a special town meeting.

And $50,000 toward a Vehicle Replacement Stabilization Fund will go toward the future replacement of one of the town’s aging fire, highway or police vehicles.

Voters allocated $10,000 for the replacement of a library bay window. Town officials said that the window needs repair and that multiple windows will likely take its place ­— and residents stressed their desire to be included before any plan is finalized.

Residents approved $28,500 for snow removal and road maintenance during the winter, and then an additional $15,365 to cover excess costs from last year.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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