By Anne O'Connor

Correspondent

TOWNSEND -- The Board of Selectmen questioned why a software purchase was not on the capital improvement plan and discussed some of the projects that were on the plan made by the Capital Planning Committee.

The planning committee did not put a software purchase recommended by the Department of Revenue on the list. The software, $12,000 per year, is needed to keep the town departments running smoothly, Selectman Sue Lisio said, "This is not a good situation."

The planning committee grades requests according to a scorecard. "We should probably get the scorecards to you so you see how it works," Capital Planning Committee member Roger Rapoza said at the March 26 Board of Selectmen meeting.

The selectmen looked at two recommended capital expenses and questioned how the costs to the town could be reduced.

The town-owned West Townsend Reading Room is rented out for functions during the year and needs a handicap ramp, siding, windows, paint and new flooring. "The reading room has always been self-sufficient," said West Townsend Reading Room Committee member Sharon Araujo, "Once repairs are done, we'll be able to self-support."

The Capital Planning Committee put a request for $23,430 for siding and window replacement on the plan for fiscal 2014. The ramp will be replaced by Nashoba Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School for the cost of materials and transportation, about $5,000, Town Administrator Andy Sheehan said at the March 29 selectmen's meeting.

"My issue is why are we using capital planning money when there's other sources of funding?" said Selectman Bob Plamondon, "What can you reasonably afford?"

The committee was reluctant to commit to spending all of its resources on the project. Working on an old building is like opening a can of worms, there is no telling what problems might show up when the work is done, said committee member Vicki Coppinger.

The reading room has several accounts it can draw from, Sheehan said. If the committee splits the cost of the 2014 request with the town it will have $12,000 left after operating expenses and paying for the ramp. The floors and siding could be done at another time.

The selectmen did not come to a decision on how much funding to approve for the reading room.

A $25,000 new vehicle for the Building Inspector also made it on the list of priorities set by the Capital Planning Committee. Rich Hanks, the inspector, said his town-owned vehicle has 191,000 miles on it.

"I would much prefer not to buy a truck and have the town instead pay you mileage for a vehicle. I don't think it's justified for a town our size. We don't have the money," Selectman Sue Lisio said.

At one time, Hanks received a stipend for using his personal vehicle on the job. A previous board gave him his present vehicle in order to save the town money, he said.

Because of increases in the mileage reimbursement, the town would need to give the building inspector a yearly stipend between $5,500 and $5,600, about twice what it was in 2001 when it was included in his contract, Hanks said.

"Are you prepared to double my stipend? I'll give you the keys," he said.

Selectman Nick Thalheimer said it might be more cost efficient to purchase a low or medium mileage fuel efficient vehicle for around $15,000. The inspector's stipend would be $27,000 over five years, and a good vehicle might have another ten years in it.

In other business:

Selectmen approved the creation of a Per Diem Librarian I position. There will be in increase in expenses. The position will be funded from available hours and will allow more flexibility with scheduling, said Library Director Stacy Schuttler.

Selectmen approved changes to the job descriptions of the summer recreational workers. The changes, including renaming of positions and removing a the requirement for a high school diploma or G.E.D., more closely reflect the responsibilities and requirements for the young workers, Recreation Director Emy Hoff said.

An article to change the tax collector's job from an elected position to an appointed position was approved for the town meeting warrant. 

Selectmen took no action on a request from the Conservation Commission to add an article to the warrant accepting a land donation.