TOWNSEND -- In a reaction to an announcement received on Tuesday from the Statehouse that local aid to Townsend would be cut by approximately $11,000, Townsend selectmen voted to send letters to state Rep. Sheila Harrington and Sen. Jennifer Flanagan noting their concerns about the matter.
The decision came after Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan announced at the Tuesday Board of Selectmen meeting that Gov. Deval Patrick had imposed some reductions to the state's budget, and local aid was not to be spared.
Sheehan said he would continue to monitor the cuts, but in the wake of the town's recent budget issues, he was more concerned about the impending fiscal year than about the cut.
"We never like to have any of our revenues go away, but in light of what we've been through over the last few months, at this point, it's not end of world," he said. "I'm more concerned about fiscal 2014 than I am about a cut of this magnitude."
Selectman Robert Plamondon said his concern was with decisions made on the state level that ultimately affected the financial status of the state and thus the town's ability to receive local aid.
The biggest of those issues, he said, was the recent decision to grant undocumented immigrants in-state tuition to state colleges. Plamondon said he wanted to issue a statement inquiring about the potential financial impact of the decision.
"The financial impact of that really hasn't been calculated," he said. "It doesn't exist in a vacuum and that money will have to come from somewhere."
Overall, said Plamondon, he was upset by the decision regarding the tuition.
"I know some critics will say, 'Well, you know, they're here and we need to deal with that,' but I think it makes no sense to say to someone who lives in a bordering state of Massachusetts, 'You're going to pay the out-of-state rate' when you have people who are here illegally who pay in-state rates," he said. "That defies logic as far as I'm concerned."
Selectman Nick Thalheimer agreed with signing the letter.
"They always want to whack at local aid, so I'm not opposed to it," he said.
In other business, selectmen voted to set a residential and commercial factor of 1 as recommended by the Board of Assessors during the annual tax classification public hearing. The fiscal 2013 tax rate is not yet set, but Niles Busler, chairman of the Board of Assessors, projected the rate at $18.26 per $1,000. The fiscal 2012 tax rate is set at $16.96.
Only about 8 percent of the town's total tax base is commercial and industrial, said Busler.
The reason to keep single tax rate across the board is to prevent "chasing commercial and industrial properties out of town," he said.
Selectmen also awarded the contract for stripping and shingling of the police station roof to Richard T. Losordo Electrical. The company put in the lowest bid of $20,064. The town had appropriated $25,000 for the project.
"Frankly we were a little concerned about the name of the company. We checked references and the firm does a lot of construction projects in addition to electrical," said Sheehan. "All of the references came back very positive. Nobody we talked to had any negatives, any concerns whatsoever."
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