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Selectmen approve deficit spending for snow and ice

Date: 3/20/2014

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM – The Board of Selectmen recently approved the use of deficit spending to address the shortfall in the budget for snow and ice removal created by the large amount of storms and accumulation during the winter.

Candace Ouellette Gaumond, administrative assistant to the board, explained that the law requires approval from the board in order to use funds out of the snow removal account as well as the overtime account for snow removal work.

“The reason for that is you can’t do a worst case scenario,” she said.

Selectman Robert Boilard recalled that at their last meeting, Department of Public Works Director Edmond Miga told them the department was approximately $63,000 over the appropriated funds for snow and ice removal.

The selectmen also gave their blessing to the new draft of the Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) that was presented to them.

ORSP Committee co-chair Joe Calabrese told the board that the committee was prepared to send their previous draft to the state for approval, but at that time were informed of the need of an additional section that explain the process of putting the document together.

“It just explains, per [Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s] request, more of the purpose of this report; it doesn’t change the original report you folks voted on,” Co-chair Jay Taylor explained.

The new draft, he said, includes an additional paragraph with that information, but technical difficulties in converting the document file into its proper format – from a Microsoft Word document to PDF format – held up its completion. He said Planning Director John Pearsall volunteered to make the necessary changes and put the document in its proper format, but because of other issues facing Pearsall, he didn’t have the opportunity to do it until approximately two weeks ago.

“I think the thing that we can glean from this we are really fortunate to have all these people who volunteer on all these committees to do this work – I think it’s one of the greatest things about this town – but we don’t have to tools that we need in order to do the job,” he said. “If I had Adobe Acrobat, I could have had this done two months ago.”

Boilard said because the document had been changed, it should be opened back up to the public, but members of the board balked at that notion, reinforcing their position that the focus of the plan had not changed.

Board of Selectmen Chair James Thompson said he saw nothing in the additions that would make him change his positive opinion of the plan, but said he would like to establish better communication with the committee.

“I think part of the concern is the six months where we didn’t hear anything and we didn’t know there was a problem,” he said. “I think we all felt as if this had moved on.”

Calabrese suggested meeting with the board on a periodic basis, which Thompson said “made a lot of sense.”

Selectman Robert Russell stated his concerns regarding the amount of say the state government has in the town’s decision-making process with regards to planning but said after reading the plan, the town was not giving up any of its local control.

Due to illnesses to members, the Casino Task Force’s meeting with the board was postponed to March 24.