Greenville citizens easily pass school and municipal budgets

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    GREENVILLE — It only took an hour and 42 minutes for Greenville voters to approve all 45 articles at the annual town meeting Monday night.

    Voters even took the unusual step of reconsidering an article to add $10,000 more to the public works account for road maintenance. But Town Manager Gary Lamb said that the extra money would not affect the town’s mil rate that much. “We’re at $15.30 per $1,000 now. The extra $10,000 would probably add 4 cents to the rate,” Lamb said after the meeting.
    The $3.36 million school budget, which is $5,486 less than last year, passed with only a few of the estimated 70 attendees asking questions. One of the articles with a noticeable increase was the School Administration account where the benefits line item went from $12,386 to $43,789. Superintendent Beth Lorigan explained that due to staff reorganization, some employees are now eligible for the district’s benefit package for the first time.
    Several Greenville school accounts were decreased including Special Education ($33,792), Student and Staff Support ($36,169) and System Administration ($22,856).
    As of February 2013, there were 237 students in the Greenville schools.
    The $2.19 million municipal budget is $41,181 higher than last year, primarily based on minor increases in the Employee Benefits, Recreation, Fire Department and Police Department accounts. The town also faces a loss of $89,000 in revenue sharing, Lamb noted.
    After the Public Works account request for $283,493 was passed, a few residents suggested that more money should go into road maintenance. “We should put aside a few thousand dollars each year to fix the roads,” said Mike Theriault, a Greenville School Committee member. “Otherwise, townspeople could face a $1 million road bond 20 years from now.” Fire Chief John Simko, a former town manager, agreed. “Costs go up as time goes on,” Simko said.
    Others, like Janet Chasse, didn’t like the idea. “This should have been discussed by the Budget Committee and Board of Selectmen before tonight,” Chasse said. “It’s unfair to the taxpayers.”
    Moderator Jake Morrell explained that while a motion to reconsider was allowed under town meeting rules, voters should exercise caution so as “not to change the character of an article.”
    For example, an individual line item could not be amended, Morrell said, but the total amount to be raised and appropriated, could.
    Eventually, a motion by Theriault to add another $10,000 to the Public Works account passed 54-12. Bonnie DuBien, chair of the Board of Selectmen, assured the audience that the money would be used appropriately. “The board knows your intentions,” DuBien said.
    A suggestion that the town add another $35,000 to the account to purchase a small tractor for snowplowing, mowing and street cleaning was shot down by voters, even though there was some support for the idea.
    Woody Bartley said that using the town’s bucket loader for street sweeping wasn’t working well, and could potentially damage the equipment. Since the hydraulic on the loader is only single-speed, the only way it can be used for sweeping is “with one foot on the gas and the other on the brakes. Otherwise, you’d be going down the street at 30 mph,” Bartley said.
    DuBien, however, said that she preferred to hold the line on expenses as much as possible. “I don’t think this is the right time to go into debt,” DuBien said.
    Voters now go to the polls on Tuesday, June 11 to make their final decision on the school budget and vote for two municipal offices.
    Selectman Richard Peat is running for re-election unopposed, and Rene Hersey and Rebecca Lee are running for a seat on the Greenville School Committee being vacated by incumbent Peter Johnson.
    A non-binding question on the ballot will ask voters if they prefer to keep the annual town meeting on the first Monday in June or move it to a Saturday.

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