HARVARD -- Town voters will have to decide 50 warrant articles at April's Town Meeting, including extra items outside the yearly budget that could range in price from $174 to $160,000.
The Finance Committee discussed how it will rate the importance of each item at its meeting last Wednesday. Recommendations on each item, which town departments have asked for in the upcoming 2015 fiscal year, will appear in a report to guide voters in casting their decisions.
Th e articles include a $55,000 mosquito-control project, as well as a new assistant town administrator position for $51,500.
There are still unresolved questions in building a budget for next fiscal year, including the vacant town veterans agent position and any cost that position might require. In the meantime, Ayer's veterans agent has been helping with the work.
"Our last veterans agent didn't take a pay," said Town Administrator Tim Bragan. "We're in the process of trying to find somebody. We don't know what it's going to be right now."
An extra $7,500 could go toward ambulance expenses and training, which also increased from fiscal 2013 to 2014.
Finance Director Lorraine Leonard explained that advanced life support is partially the reason for the increase over the past few years.
"Having more people trained on how to save people's lives is not a bad thing," said committee member Bob Thurston. "It's hard to put a dollar value to that."
Meanwhile, the amount to be set aside for the town's looming retirement burden, also known as "other post-employment benefits," is not yet known.
Harvard public schools is asking for an additional $165,772, which includes a math coach for Hildreth Elementary and a TV/video instructor for the Bromfield School. Both schools are expanding wellness education, as Hildreth Elementary plans for a part-time position while Bromfield wants to bump its wellness teacher up to full-time.
The Planning Board has requested an attorney to offer a second opinion on a matter, at a cost of $1,500, although this might not be possible.
"Unfortunately, legally, the Planning Board doesn't have the ability to hire an attorney under Massachusetts General Law," Bragan said. "If they need a second opinion, all they have to do is go to the Board of Selectmen."
Aside from these increases, trash-removal costs should go down by $7,400, Bragan said. The town signed a new contract in December that will take effect in 2015.
Residents will vote on warrant items and the budget, which the committee finalizes, at Town Meeting in April.
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