Tax relief unlikely for Hampden in fiscal year 2012
Date: 10/18/2011Oct. 17, 2011
By Chris Maza
Reminder Assistant Editor
HAMPDEN Hampden residents should not expect to see any reduction in their tax rate for fiscal year 2012 (FY12).
Article 9 of the warrant for the Oct. 24 Special Town Meeting at 7 p.m. is designed to determine whether or not the town would vote to transfer unappropriated funds in order to reduce the tax rate, but Selectman Richard Green said he expects there will be no action taken on the article.
Green explained that Article 9 is designed to explore the possibility of a reduction in the tax rate only after all prior articles on the warrant have been voted upon.
Usually if there is not enough leftover money, the town votes to put the remaining funds in the stabilization account, which is addressed in Article 10.
“Article 9 and Article 10 are boiler plates. If we schedule a Special Town Meeting, they are always there,” Green said. “Once the remaining free cash has been determined, if there’s anything left over, we would determine if there is a way to use that money to reduce the tax rate in a meaningful way.
“Right now, looking at the funds we have, we anticipate that there isn’t a way to reduce the rate meaningfully, so we’ll probably put it in the stabilization fund,” he concluded.
Green did admit that his prediction could be a bit premature because the Advisory Committee has not yet hosted its public hearing, which is scheduled for Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.
“The picture becomes much clearer after that hearing,” Green said. “The meeting is designed for the committee to gather input from the public. Right now, all we’ve had are preliminary conversations and the committee has yet to make its recommendations.”
Among the articles the town is anticipated to take action on is a motion to hire a records management consultant, which Green stressed was a “one-time expense and not a new town position.”
“Like any municipality, we have storage issues. We have never used outside storage, so all of our records are kept in town offices and we’re bursting at the seams,” Green said. “We’re looking for suggestions on how to handle our records and potential ideas for storage options. That’s what this consultant would do for us.”
Residents will also be asked to approve a money transfer for the purpose of purchasing a new police cruiser. The existing vehicle was something the town did not plan on replacing, but ongoing mechanical issues with the vehicle has prompted the need for the article.
“Hampden has tried to work on a bit of a schedule when it comes to emergency vehicles. We got a little out of sequence because this cruiser was damaged while reporting to an emergency,” Green said.
At its Oct. 25, 2010, Special Town Meeting the town voted to spend $6,000 to repair the cruiser’s engine, which was damaged during that call, but a year later, more issues have surfaced.
“The cruiser has reached a certain mileage where other components, such as the electrical and the transmission need repair,” Green said. “So instead of throwing good money after bad, we are hoping the town will consider purchasing a new cruiser.”
Continued repairs to the Town House are also on the docket to be voted upon. According to Green, windows in the library, as well as town offices are in need of replacement, as well as outmoded restroom facilities and stairs.
“There have been two major renovations of the building in 1967 and 1991 and the building undergoes regular upgrades,” Green said. “The Selectmen keep an ongoing list of projects and improvements and the ones that are most pressing are the ones we ask the town to approve.”