New Salem residents to vote on paying off library loan

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 06-14-2024 4:05 PM

Modified: 06-14-2024 6:59 PM


NEW SALEM — Adoption of one of the final warrant articles at Annual Town Meeting on Monday would mean residents agree to use six figures of free cash to ensure the early payoff of a loan that funded the local library’s construction.

The article asks if voters are willing to transfer $126,300 from free cash to bring the loan balance to zero. Town Coordinator Kathy Neal said this decision would pay off the 40-year loan 20 years ahead of schedule and save $66,000 in interest.

“This eliminates one of our debts,” she said, alluding to last year’s Annual Town Meeting vote to appropriate $616,000 to replace the Fire Department’s 37-year-old primary response pumper truck.

Judith Northup-Bennett, a library trustee, said the loan funded the library’s construction circa 2004.

Annual Town Meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Town Hall on Monday.

The town’s proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2025 is $3.37 million. This is a 0.6% increase from the current fiscal year’s figures.

The warrant also consists of four articles pertaining exclusively to the Fire Department.

One asks voters if they give their blessing to raising and appropriating $5,000 for turnout gear. Joe Cuneo, who has been the chief since 2008, said he asks for money every year to set aside in case his firefighters’ personal protective equipment needs to be repaired or replaced.

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Another article requests $12,750 to purchase an alarm system for the Fire Station. Cuneo said this system notifies a monitoring company that contacts a dispatch center in the event of a fire at the station at 33 South Main St.

A different article pertains to raising and appropriating $10,000 to repair the station’s chimney. Cuneo said the building was built in 1957 and the chimney needs a repoint, or replacement of decaying mortar to strengthen its structural integrity.

“It’s standing and there and doing its job,” Cuneo said, adding that he merely wants to maintain the chimney to keep it in decent condition.

The other Fire Department article asks voters for $69,900 for a loan payment on the fire truck. A Proposition 2½ debt exclusion was previously approved for the purchase.

Highway

Adoption of Article 19 would transfer $220,000 from free cash to purchase a new multi-purpose truck for the Highway Department.

Highway Superintendent Aaron Thibeault explained he has his eyes on a Ford F-750 at Sarat Ford in Agawam. He said his department’s current F-750 is 22 years old.

“The other one operates well, but it is extremely rusty underneath and it’s only function is a sander truck,” he explained. “There is always a need for a backup vehicle.”

Thibeault said the new vehicle’s body is such that it serves as a sander and a dump truck.

He said it consists of stainless steel, which helps prevent rust and corrosion.

The 37-article warrant can be viewed at tinyurl.com/2024NewSalem.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.