Voters to decide on elementary school repairs, dump truck purchase at Gill Town Meeting

  • Gill Elementary School’s main hallway, where a section of the floor has been sealed off due to degrading tiles. Gill voters will be asked to appropriate $300,000 for the flooring replacement project during Annual Town Meeting on Saturday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • A classroom in Gill Elementary School where a section of the floor has been sealed off due to degrading tiles. Gill voters will be asked to appropriate $300,000 for the flooring replacement project during Annual Town Meeting on Saturday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 6/24/2021 7:26:08 PM

GILL — Voters will be asked to weigh in on 24 articles at Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, including an increased town budget and proposed floor replacement at the elementary school.

The meeting will convene at 10 a.m. outdoors at Gill Elementary School.

The proposed town operating budget for fiscal year 2022 is set at $1.92 million, which is a 4.8 percent increase from the current year’s budget.

Selectboard Chair Greg Snedeker said the town’s finances are in a good spot considering the events of 2020.

“We’re pleasantly surprised that our financial situation was not as bad as we thought it would be last year going into the pandemic,” Snedeker said. “We’re not anticipating a large increase in the tax rate and we’re pleased with where we’re at.”

He did add there were a lot of capital requests this year, so town officials had to pick and choose the projects they wanted to pursue. He said the number of requests may be of some “concern” in the next year or two.

The town’s assessment toward the Gill-Montague Regional School District’s budget is $1.71 million, which represents a 4.2 percent decrease from the current year.

Voters will be asked to appropriate $300,000 for a flooring replacement project at Gill Elementary School. Snedeker is unsure if money will be borrowed for this because federal and state grants may help the town pay for it.

The floor tiles began degrading unusually rapidly this spring. The tiles contain asbestos, a material that was commonly used in tiles until the 1980s, when it was found that degrading asbestos can be hazardous if inhaled.

Snedeker said the project has been “on the radar screen for many years” and the pandemic requirements of increased air flow made the floor deteriorate quicker.

“There’s asbestos in there and it will be an expensive remediation project,” Snedeker said. “With the new air filtration system and increased air circulation, it dried out the floor tiles and accelerated the condition of the floor.”

Citizens will also be asked to vote on appropriating $205,000 to buy a new dump truck with a plow, of which up to $161,284.85 can be borrowed by the town treasurer.

Article 14 concerns appropriating $2,200 for a new electronic vote tabulator for town elections.

Town Administrator Ray Purington said this article was laid out in anticipation of new voting machine requirements that may be on the horizon.

He said the machines cost upward of $6,000 and the town wants to spread this money out over three years.

“The company stopped making the machine in 2007 and it’s at the age where parts are starting to get scarce,” Purington said of the town’s current equipment. “We expect machine requirements will be changing for the next presidential election.”

Other articles on the warrant include:

■Appropriating $3,000 to join the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District.

■Transferring $20,000 of free cash to remediate water, humidity and mold in Town Hall’s basement.

■Transferring $50,000 from free cash to reduce the tax rate and stabilize the tax levy.

■Transferring $15,000 of free cash to the Fire Department SCBA/Air Packs Stabilization Fund and an additional $90,000 to the General Stabilization Fund.

The full Annual Town Meeting warrant can be viewed at bit.ly/3qlBFqa.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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