SHIRLEY -- Selectmen met in regular session Monday for the sole purpose of reviewing, one last time, the Sept. 24 Special Town Meeting warrant.
They polished off the 12 articles in about an hour and after some discussion unanimously voted to recommend favorable action on all but one, including purchase of a new police cruiser for $33,500 and a pick up truck for $40,250 and spending $15,000 to fix the drainage problem on Harvard Road.
The selectmen also recommended favorable action on a list of eleven appropriation amendments under Article 3 that will be considered separately on Town Meeting floor.
If voters approve them all, the total would add over $100,000 to the fiscal 2013 budget's bottom line, including $6,677 to pay for hours the Council on Aging director already works that were originally covered, in part, by an anonymous donation.
Similarly, another line item on the list that the board recommended favorable action on would up by $4,652 compensation for the library director's position, commensurate with responsibilities and hours on the job.
But there were caveats to their recommendations, and in one case, their recommendation hinges on passage of a Proposition 2 and a half tax override.
One of the appropriation amendments in Article 3 adds $28,257 to the Police Dept. budget to hire a new police officer. Two related line items would also go up, adding another $3,095 and $7,143, respectively to pay for uniforms and cover
"We have the money to hire a new police officer this year," Chairman Andy Deveau said. But the question then becomes, is the position sustainable?
Not without passing an override, selectmen concluded, and they made their recommendation for favorable action on that item contingent on it.
According to Principal Assessor Becky Caldbeck, the $68,781 total cost annually would up the tax rate by 11 cents, translating to a $22 annual increase based on an "average" home valued at $200,000. For a home valued at $300,000 the override in question would add $33 to the annual tax bill.
The only article they held off recommending was Article 9, which seeks to amend the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District agreement such that the pending building project debt is used as a conduit for Ayer to pay its fair share of remaining debt on the middle school, which is now a shared facility that houses more kids from Ayer than from Shirley.
The deal hinges on passage of the building project by district-wide vote and subsequent debt exclusions in each town.
This article confuses me," Deveau said.
Caldbeck asked why the debt-sharing offer was contingent on the high school building project plan instead of continued occupation of the middle school.
Deveau agreed that posed a problem. "We asked Mr. Mock (School Superintendent Carl Mock) if there was a Plan B," that addressed what happens if the project proposal fails, he said. But Mock said no.
Now, there's a modified version of the article, submitted that day, Chief Administrative Officer Dave Berry said.
Selectmen said that since they hadn't had a chance to review it yet, they would make their recommendation on Town Meeting floor.