TOWNSEND -- The Finance Committee approved a budget for fiscal 2015 and an alternative funding plan for the town's capital requests Thursday night, despite some dissent.
The committee voted 5-1 to pass an $18.5 million budget, up about $800,000 over last year.
Member Carolyn Smart was the dissenting vote because of concerns she voiced about the increase and the town's financial stability.
"I can't in good conscience support the increases in this budget," Smart said. "Any increase in hours or expenses right now I just don't feel like I can support."
Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan said he was confident in the budget, as well as the town's financial stability.
"I wouldn't put a budget forward if I didn't think it was sustainable," Sheehan said.
Committee Chairman Nancy Rapoza said she trusted those who were charged with compiling the budget.
"We have a town accountant, we have a town administrator who think that this budget is fine. I'm not going to pretend to understand all of the details, but that's why we have people in these positions," Rapoza said.
The committee also approved, 4-2, a plan to borrow $733,785 to fund capital projects for the next two years.
Traditionally, the capital plan has been funded through an appropriation each year rather than through borrowing.
Smart and Andrea Wood were the dissenting votes, with Smart saying she was concerned that some of the projects being funded hadn't been reviewed and prioritized by the Capital Planning Committee.
"Many of the projects on the FY16 section haven't been reviewed on our capital plan, so I'm not exactly sure how it can be a legal thing," Smart said.
Sheehan said the plan was a way of making sure the town's needs are met despite strains on the budget, such as increased school assessments.
"We've set about building a funding plan that would address the town's needs. We could have said that's more than we expected from the schools, so the town services are going to suffer. We didn't think that was fair so we came up with a way around that," Sheehan said.
The committee also voted unanimously not to recommend two major annual Town Meeting warrant articles that will go before voters May 6. One article would fund construction of a new fire-station headquarters and the other would fund weekly recycling pick-up.
The $11.3 million cost of the fire station was simply too high for the town to absorb at this time, members said. Smart also expressed concerns about not knowing how much of that cost would go toward land acquisition.
The $71,000 cost to fund weekly recycling collection would require a Proposition 2 1/2 override, which members said they would not support. A nonbinding referendum on the question went before voters Monday and failed, 1,363 to 400 .
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