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Second time’s the charm: Montague Finance Committee pruned, financial decisions made

TURNERS FALLS — Montague town meeting members turned out in sufficient force this week to vote on the issues of the day, trimming the Finance Committee’s size and authorizing a number of financial transfers, several needed to fill department budget gaps until the new fiscal year in July.

Postponed after failing to reach a quorum for the first time in recent memory, the special town meeting originally scheduled for Feb. 28 successfully convened Wednesday, according to Town Clerk Debra Bourbeau.

The Finance Committee had requested to reduce its membership from nine to between three and seven.

The committee has had difficulty reaching a quorum recently, with five sitting members and five the quorum — calculated as half the official number of seats plus one — required to conduct business.

Town Clerk Debra Bourbeau said the motion passed after several attempted amendments, one successful.

As amended, the change to the town bylaws sets Finance Committee membership at not less than five but not more than seven.

The new range sets the quorum at three for a minimum membership of five. The committee may meet without full membership provided it can reach a quorum.

Among the other 17 items approved:

■ $100,000 into the town stabilization or savings fund.

■ $24,500 to increase the police budget for the current fiscal year.

■ $30,000 to increase the veterans’ benefits budget for the current fiscal year.

■ $17,500 to increase the legal expense budget for the current fiscal year.

■ $11,000 to increase the emergency dispatch budget for the current fiscal year.

■ $11,000 to install handicapped access at the front and rear entrances of the Town Hall.

■ $17,200 to pay off the amount owed on a John Deere loader, from the sewage plant’s retained earnings.

Two items, a transfer of $1,400 into the town accountant’s budget and $5,500 for the Board of Assessors were voted down at the town’s request because they had been filled with reserve fund transfers since the creation of the warrant.

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