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Mendon Voters Shoot Down Town Administrator’s Salary Funding

After nearly an hour-long debate and two secret ballot votes, Mendon voters said no to transferring $14,768 to the Town Administrator's salary line item. The funding was being brought forward to comply with Town Administrator Kim Newman's new contract. The vote took place during a March 21 Special Town Meeting at Clough School with 101 voters attending.

Article 3 on the warrant, which initially totaled $21,600, also included a 1.75 percent cost of living adjustment for several town employees, as well as the $14,768. The Board of Selectmen supported the increase explaining that Newman had been offered a higher paying position in Canton and they wanted to keep her in Mendon. A salary survey also revealed she was underpaid.

When the discussion on the increase was opened up, a number of residents voiced their anger about Newman's increase arguing there are many town employees who are also underpaid. However, several residents said they supported Newman's increase noting the town is running better since her hiring.

Still, resident and former Town Accountant Claudia Cataldo requested an amendment to Newman's increase be changed to $0 and also requested the amendment be voted on through a secret ballot. By a vote of 59 to 38 the amendment was passed. A second secret ballot vote to confirm the motion was also passed by a vote of 63 to 33.

Since residents voted down Newman's increase, Selectman Rich Schofield said he has been advised by Town Counsel that Mendon could be vulnerable to breach of contract.

All other money articles at the meeting passed, the majority utilizing free cash for funding. Article 1 funded the interim Town Accountant's salary for $23,400 whose contract was extended until a permanent employee is hired. Article 2 added an additional $4,504 to the Board of Selectmen's Executive Assistant to fund an additional, but temporary, eight hours a week through the fiscal year.

Several other articles concerned the Public Safety Departments. Article 4 transferred $8,123 for police overtime expenses for road details and Article 5 paid $3,200 for a keyless entry system for police offices now located temporarily in the Town Hall, and Article 6 transferred $10,000 for Fire Department overtime wages. According to Chief Ernest Horn, nearly 60 percent of his full time Fire Department force has been injured on duty.

The next articles involved the Highway Department. Article 7 transferred $4,400 to replace a part on a dump truck and Article 8 funded $4,200 for diesel fuel. Article 9 was seeking $11,700 for Highway Construction Maintenance/Police Overtime Wages for a traffic detail concerning a road repair and Article 10 transferred $8,200 for costs related to a culvert installation.

Article 11 requested funding to pay for anticipated extra water usage. However, until the issue with the town's water meters is solved, the Finance Committee recommended that be passed over.

Article 12 funded $10,000 for veteran's benefits, which is 75 percent reimbursable, and Article 13 funded $3,983 for worker's compensation.

For Article 14, $42,985 from Community Preservation Act funding was transferred to make various roof repairs to the current Taft Public Library building and Article 15 sought $2,500 for the Mendon Land Bank that will fund an environmental assessment to test land on George St. before the town accepts it.

Residents unanimously voted to support Article 16 which will set up a tax aid fund to assist low income elderly home owners and disabled home owners with their real estate taxes. In addition, residents voted unanimously on Article 17 to accept a piece of land on George St. from a developer to be utilized for open space.

For Article 18, residents gave approval to authorize the town to give back a piece of land that was donated for a new library site. However, because the town is preparing to open its new library on North Ave., both a town meeting vote and legislative approval is needed to return it to the owner.

Article 19 was approved to permit Mass. Electric and Verizon New England the perpetual right and easement related to electric work on town owned land off of Milford St.

Voters closed out the meeting by approving Article 20 permitting BlueWave Capital to enter into a power purchase agreement with the town.


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