Water bylaws, budget discussion d

WARE — A 27-article warrant was presented at the rescheduled June 10 Town meeting at the Ware Junior Senior High School with a significant allotment of time and discussion devoted to identifying overall budget allocations and affecting changes to water bylaws and infrastructure spending.

After the original May 13 meeting failed to meet the required quorum of 100 attendees as per the town’s charter, the town postponed and reduced the quorum requirement to 50 as allowed by law. Approximately 145 residents attended the June 10 meeting.

Water Enterprise funding of $1.27 million and Sewer Enterprise allocations of $1.25 million passed by majority vote as did the town budget proposal for fiscal year 2025 which reflected a proposed $41.5 million, an increase of nearly $2 million over budget for FY24 as reflected in the warrant.

A 9.9% increase in general government costs along with a nearly 6% rise each for public safety and employee benefits were part of an increase in expenditures between years of 3.8%. Revenue sources including state aid and enterprise funds combined for a 4.9 % increase.

School spending as part of the combined budget was identified at $18.5 million, down from the $19.1 million originally requested.

Articles addressing and creating a new stormwater bylaw regarding runoff and drainage and establishing a new stormwater authority within the Conservation Commission passed by majority as did those amending the zoning bylaws to include a floodplain zoning overlay.

Appropriations of $125,000 from the Water Enterprise Reserve Fund the designs to refurbish the existing water tanks on Church Street and Anderson Road were approved along with the articles allocating $2 million for the actual refurbishment of the tanks which have been deemed to require cleaning and interior resurfacing.

An additional $50,000 from the Water Enterprise Reserve Fund was approved for allocation for plan development directed at the public water system and PFAS contaminants, in relation to pending Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Funding for repairs for the Senior Center met with Town Meeting voter approval while articles addressing roof repairs for Stanley M. Koziol Elementary School and Ware Middle School were dismissed to allow for the town to apply for grant funding. A similar article seeking appropriations for restroom construction at Greenville Park was also dismissed to permit the pursuit of grant funding.

Voters approved $120,000 from available free cash to upgrade the electrical system at Town Hall, to be matched by $80,000 in ARPA funds.

Community members also voted in favor of the establishment of a Charter Review Committee, appointed by the town manager. The purpose of the entity, which would include representation from the Selectboard, Finance Committee and other town departments, would be to serve as an advisory committee to the Town Meeting, offering recommendations for changes to the town’s charter.

The final amendment article passed by majority approved the providing of tax relief to some qualifying seniors in town who meet requirements based upon age, income and other specified parameters.

With the first two articles addressing unpaid bills and budget line items dismissed, a grouping of Articles 3-11 were presented as a consent agenda. Those items, covering non-controversial grant allocations and appropriations in anticipation of reimbursement by the Commonwealth were voted on and passed with the exception of Article 10, addressing Revolving Fund expenditures for the Senior Center, school athletics advertising, community development, cemetery and bulky waste spending. Those line items were vetted between the moderator, department officials and members of the audience prior to the passing vote.