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Amherst planning panel weighs spending requests

The committee, made up of members of the Finance Committee, Select Board, School Committee and Jones Library trustees, is meeting weekly to hear presentations about department needs and make recommendations for the annual Town Meeting.

This year, capital spending is being set at 7 percent of the budget proposed by Town Manager John Musante, with the amount available from the tax levy expected to be $3.3 million.

Finance Committee member Kay Moran, who chairs the Joint Capital Planning Committee, said the board expects to have about $3 million more in requests than funding available. Portions of the capital budget are already committed to other projects, such as paying for leases on vehicles and borrowing costs for other equipment.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring told the committee Thursday he would like to purchase two lawn mowers, a bucket loader and one-ton truck, both to replace 1998 models, and spend $6,000 on replacing decorative street lighting in downtown.

Another $30,000 is being requested for rebuilding sidewalks. Mooring said this typically will supplement the state’s Chapter 90 road money, as it did last year when the money was directed toward sidewalk improvements on Triangle Street. A sidewalk on South East Street near College Street will be rebuilt this year using Community Development Block Grant money, he said. Information Technology Director Kristopher Pacunas presented a list of items, including $123,000 for servers, routing and switching equipment, $20,000 for the outdoor wireless system and $60,000 for core servers and switchers. Another $30,000 is needed for a new door access system at the police station.

Linda Chalfant, director of Leisure Services and Supplemental Education, said her $15,000 request is to purchase a new pickup truck and trailer to haul equipment. The Police Department is asking for $120,000, of which $105,000 will go toward replacing two police cruisers with high mileage and an administrative vehicle. The other $15,000 is for a fingerprint scanning system.

The Fire Department is requesting both an ambulance and a pickup truck, with the ambulance being paid for through the ambulance fund. The Jones Library needs $25,000 as its match for a state Board of Library Commissioners planning and design grant. The Planning Department is seeking $50,000 to complete a remapping of Amherst floodplains and the Conservation Department has requested $5,000 to purchase a “brush hog” mower and $5,000 to purchase a new trailer for maintaining conservation and trail areas.

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