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Finance Committee to Recommend Passing Over Town Meeting Articles

During an April 27 meeting, members of Mendon's Finance Committee met to review the finalized Annual Town Meeting warrant. During the discussion, the Committee unanimously decided to recommend passing over a vehicle purchase and several Community Preservation Act (CPA) articles.

Article 7 on the warrant is seeking approximately $25,000 to purchase a vehicle for several Town Hall departments to utilize. According to Finance Committee Chair Mike Merolli, due to an increase in new properties, staff in the assessor, building inspectors, and enforcement code departments are having to travel much more and in need of a vehicle. However, the Finance Committee will recommend passing over it. "We're not against the idea of it," said Merolli. "We just have questions, like who will pay for the fuel, who will fund repairs, where will it be housed? That's our job as the Finance Committee; to look at things." Merolli explained someone on the floor may be able to answer those questions and then residents may chose to support it.

It will also be recommended that Article 8 be passed over. The town is seeking an IT grant from the Community Compact and the article was seeking funds to match it. However, town officials have not received word if the grant has been awarded.

The Finance Committee will also recommend a CPA-related article concerning weed control be passed over. Article 21 is seeking CPA funds totaling $2,400 for the removal of invasive weeds in Inman Pond; the Trustees of Reservations is funding another $11,000 toward the project. "I think this the seventh year requesting the funds to eradicate weeds in a pond in the woods, and every year they say this is going to be the last year," said Merolli.

However, according to Anne Mazar of Community Preservation and Land Use Committees, if the town had not funded the weed project the nine-acre pond would have died and "would have been a great loss to wildlife and passive recreation." Soon, Mazar said the project will be at a point where volunteers will hand pull the weeds. She added, "If the project stops, it will revert back to full weed coverage."

Article 22 concerns the Affordable Housing Coordinator's part time salary for $20,000 that is funded with CPA monies. The Finance Committee is also recommending to pass it over. Merolli said historically the position has been established in an effort to understand the laws and regulations pertaining to affordable housing and relay that information to the appropriate boards and committees. "That process has been accomplished," he explained. "Bill's (McHenry) done a good job but we have that information now."

Mazar disagreed, saying, "Bill has figured out much of the complexities of the laws, built a network, applied for grants and now has two potential projects for Mendon. Mendon needs the position so he can carry out the projects and use the grant funding." Mazar added there are no volunteers or paid staff to do so.

Parks and Recreation Director Dan Byer said Article 23 will be passed over. Initially the article was seeking CPA monies for the installation of a drainage system on Tetreault Field and upgrades to Veteran's Park outfield. However, engineering plans are still being completed. Byer said the funding request will come before voters at another town meeting.

Article 24 on the warrant is seeking $1,000 to digitize the town's 300th anniversary 16 mm film footage. "We were told CPA funding is not an appropriate use for this project," said Merolli. "However, someone could make an amendment on the floor to utilize a different funding source for the project."

Merolli noted the Finance Committee is merely recommending the articles be passed over but the decision to vote on and ultimately fund them is the decision of the taxpayers. The May 6 Annual Town Meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Miscoe Hill School.


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