New Salem to vote on budget, political resolution

Staff Writer
Published: 6/17/2019 5:19:30 PM

NEW SALEM — Residents are asked to vote on 41 articles at the Annual Town Meeting Wednesday, including the town’s budget and a resolution dealing with the influence of money in politics.

This meeting will start at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, and will resume Thursday at 7 p.m., also at Town Hall, if there is insufficient time to vote on all 41 articles Wednesday.

Headlining this year’s Annual Town Meeting is the budget. The recommended budget is $3,041,417, an $88,718 (3 percent) increase over this year’s $2,952,699 budget.

Most of the planned budget (59 percent) will support education, specifically Swift River School, which the town shares as an elementary school with Wendell. Swift River School saw increased costs this year in the areas of special education and health insurance, similar to other area schools.

Tail-ending the warrant is a resolution dealing with the influence of money in politics. The article asks residents to support the nonpartisan, grassroots movement “Represent U.S.,” which seeks state and federal legislation to limit “the influence of money in politics and promote free and fair elections.”

The article states “the unregulated influence of money has degraded the fairness and efficacy of our elections at every government level,” and that “free and fair elections are essential to the health of our democracy and demand our efforts to protect them.”

Represent U.S.’s local chapter, Represent Western Mass, looks for legislation “that will forestall the influence of money in our elections through measures such as limiting the access of lobbyists, mandating full transparency in campaign financing, adopting public campaign financing, instituting automatic voter registration, ending gerrymandering, and instituting ranked choice voting, to encourage civic participation and ensure fair representation in this most vital of our democratic institutions.”

If passed, New Salem will notify elected officials, including state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, state Rep. Susannah Whipps, I-Athol, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey.

Other articles

Residents are also asked to support funding the replacement of windows and doors at Swift River School. An exact amount of money is not yet given, as the town has applied for a Massachusetts School Building Authority grant to fund the project. Separate from the windows and doors project, residents are asked to allow $5,000 to be raised or transferred for capital projects at Swift River.

Voters are also asked to allow $17,654 for construction projects at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School, funds which have already been approved via a previous Proposition 2½ tax override.

Other funding requests include:

■ $57,000 to the Highway Department for expenses related to snow removal and winter road maintenance

■ $11,156 for cost-of-living increases in payments to non-elected town employees

■$12,390, approved via Proposition 2½, for library construction project loan payments

■$53,385, approved via Proposition 2½, for loan payments on the town’s fire truck

■$40,000 for debt payments on the town’s broadband project

■$17,547, approved via Proposition 2½, for loan payments on the Swift River School roof and boiler project

■$29,755 for the Highway Barn loan payment

■$50,000 for the Vehicle Replacement Stabilization Fund

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.




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