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PELHAM — Select Board members Tara Loomis and David Shanabrook met March 4 to vote to include articles on the warrant for this year’s spring Town Meeting.

Loomis and Shanabrook did not vote to recommend articles for passage, a later step in the process. The first five articles were numbered, the next 14 were not.

Articles 1 and 2 will allow the town to accept the votes of officials and committees, or gives the treasurer, with Select Board approval, the authority to borrow money. Many articles will authorize some of the basic activities of the town. Another article will give authority to the Library Trustees to spend money raised through the sale of books, gifts, bequests and subsidies from state and federal sources.

Article 3 asks voters to approve the fiscal year 2025 proposed budget. That budget includes $529,757 for general government expenses, $105,225 for boards and commissions, $3,055,820 for school related costs and levy and $474,225 for public works. Voters will also be requested to fund other departmental budgets of $418,127 for public safety, $22,761 for health and sanitation and $880,844 for employee benefits and insurance.

The proposed FY25 budget is $5,506,759. The proposed town budget in 2024 was $5.22 million. The increase is about $287,000.

The pay rates for elected and appointed officials are set by a vote on Article 4. A vote in favor will establish rates of pay at $1,000 for the chair of the Board of Assessors, $5,000 for the other assessors, the county commissioner at $9 per hour, $1,200 for each Select Board member and $1,500 for the tree warden.

Article 5 asks voters to fund a variety of town functions from free cash, the town’s savings account. If approved by voters those funding amounts will include a regional school district capital reserve of $21,000 toward a total capital assessment of $29,311. The Cemetery Commission will be funded for $1,000, the Housing Committee for $4,000, the Sustainability Committee for $500 and the tree warden for $2,500.

Appropriations from free cash will total $213,066.

Voters must also approve limits for all revolving accounts, which enable the spending and receipt of monies in the course of official business. The proposed amounts for FY25 include the archivist for $2,500, $30,000 for the building inspector, $5,000 for the Community Garden Committee, $7,000 for the community hall, $7,500 for the Fire Department and $1,500 for the gas inspector.

The revolving account for the DPW will start at $7,500 while the Planning Board will initially receive $15,000, $1,500 will go to the plumbing inspector and $3,000 to the electrical inspector. The Police Department will be funded under the article at $7,500. The Zoning Board of Appeals will initially receive $1,000.

Town officials are also asking voters to authorize a different handling procedure for funds received from the settlement of opioid lawsuits. The article asks voters to approve a special revenue fund for those monies.

The Community Preservation Committee, or CPC, which manages funds from the commonwealth disbursed through the Community Preservation Act, if voted favorably, will be able to appropriate and transfer estimated annual revenues of $8,400.

An article will also empower CPC members to reserve for later appropriation $17,000 for open space, $17,000 for community housing, $17,000 for historic resources, while $108,600 will be reserved for later uses.

An article will ask voters to appropriate $10,774 from the PEG Access and Cable related fund for technology services.

Voters are likely to be familiar with an article regarding the school assessment paid by the town to the regional school district, an amendment to Section 6 that limits an increase in the assessment to no more than 4%. The requirements of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for a local contribution from the town must still be met.

The new running track and other expenditures for repairs on regional school buildings asks voters to appropriate an undefined amount for those repairs.
Town voters will also be asked to raise $52,467 for a project or projects, including $12,657.72 transferred from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

One article voted onto the warrant asks voters to approve a plan involving Amherst and Northampton in an intermunicipal energy aggregation plan. That plan was developed in conjunction with Valley Green Energy and has been in development for quite some time, including community information meetings.

Voters will also be asked to decide whether $8,278.74 should be transferred to a project under a grant from the Municipal Vulnerability Plan. The funds will cover a shortfall in expenses left uncovered by the grant.

Executive Assistant to the Select Board Susannah Carrie said of the source of the money to cover the shortfall, “It will more than likely be from free cash.”
If approved by a vote, one warrant article will empower the Cultural Council to expend such monies as it receives from the commonwealth.

The last two articles voted onto the warrant give the Select Board the authority to enter into contracts with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for public highway maintenance and to apply for any state or federal grants that may become available.

The Town Meeting is scheduled for May 11.

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