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Montague OKs pay raises, sewer spending

MONTAGUE — Town meeting members approved pay raises for town staff and more than $1.8 million in transfers and spending authority to replace sewer lines and to repair department budgets dented by the sewer line failures at the mouth of the Airport Industrial Park at Thursday’s meeting.

All items on the agenda passed, several with amendments.

Several items on the agenda addressed the recommendations of a pay study commissioned by the town with town meeting authorization in 2012, proposing a total of about $140,000 in raises for town employees this fiscal year.

Raises for nonunion employees, including the town administrator, police chief, accountant and department heads, total $17,962 and range from $181 to $5,599.

Police union negotiations are complete and raises for employees in that union total $43,320.

Union negotiations were not yet complete with the remaining unions, but placeholder figures in the amounts recommended by the study were approved in the amount of $55,550 for employees represented by the Town of Montague Employee Association and $23,420 for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America workers.

Leading the sewer appropriations was $1 million to replace sewer lines on Industrial Boulevard and Millers Falls Road, amended down to $936,000 based on bids.

The proposed project follows the emergency work already completed to address sewer line blockages and apparent collapses near the intersection of the two roads at the mouth of the Industrial Park, and will extend the new sections of sewer line up Industrial Boulevard and as far as the trailer park on Millers Falls Road.

The state authorized the town to spend money without the usual advertising and bid process for emergency work to correct the problem, then a second time to correct a mistake in laying the new lines.

The $936,000 appropriation is for work not considered an emergency need. A further $764,000 went to cover the work already completed.

Voters also approved $81,926 to cover haulage and pumping costs during the sewer failure and $80,000 to continue hauling and possibly pumping waste during the second phase of the project.

An appropriation of $120,000 from sewer-retained earnings to decrease the sewer rates constituted approval of the rates approved by the Board of Selectmen this week, with an increase of 3.7 percent, or an average of $13 per year for the average household, according to the Water Pollution Control Facility superintendent.

Voters also funded a new position for the Department of Public Works, $31,220 for an additional groundskeeper position to care for the newly improved Unity Park and other town spaces.

Also among the larger items approved:

■ $110,000 to replace a boiler at the Sheffield building of the Montague Elementary School, with the amendment that the project go before the Energy Committee.

■ $14,070 for Montague’s 25 percent contribution to the funding of an animal control officer position, to be filled by Greenfield’s current animal control officer and shared between Greenfield, Montague and Deerfield.

■ $18,015 to increase the debt budget.

■ $200,000 for the town savings fund.

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