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Voters consider sewer repair costs and more at STM

By Debbie Gardner

PRIME Editor

WILBRAHAM Voters will be asked to authorize borrowing anticipated to total $328,910 at the Oct. 30 Special Town Meeting to cover the cost of emergency repairs to the sewer line on Stony Hill Road.

According to a press release about the vote on Wilbraham's town web site, the state financial regulations require that the town vote to cover the expenses through a Town Meeting prior to establishing the FY 2007 tax rate.

Wilbraham traditionally sets the tax rate for the coming year in December.

According to Town Administrator William Fogarty, Wilbraham needs to follow this procedure even though the emergency repair borrowing will not be reflected in the new tax rate.

The debt service on this borrowing, he said, will be paid with monies from the Waste Water Enterprise Fund, one of three enterprise funds operated by the town.

Monies in the Waste Water Enterprise Fund come from fees collected for sewer and waste water service, and solid waste disposal.

Fogarty said the Stony Hill Road repairs were done on an emergency basis because serious damage was discovered during a robotic camera survey of the pipe.

The survey was approved at the Annual Town Meeting in May.

"We'd been showing a big infiltration of ground water in that area of town and we were trying to find out why," Fogarty said of the survey.

He said the inspection uncovered an area of pipe where the bottom was rotted away.

This damaged pipe was directly below the location where Ceder Ridge Active Adult Community developers planned to lay a drainage pipe.

Fogarty said the Town requested and received special permission from the state to use the same contractor to do the repair and lay the drainage pipe simultaneously.

"Part of the work he is doing for the developer, part of it for the town it's much less expensive," he said.

Additional warrant articles

Fogarty told Reminder Publications that there will also be four additional articles on the warrant for the Oct. 30 Special Town Meeting.

The first article will ask voters' permission to transfer money from an unused line item to fund two studies.

"One is a study to update a look at the condition of our town buildings and map out a capital improvement plan for the next 10years," Fogarty said. "The second [study] was actually a petitioned article to look at the impact of the benefits of retired town employees."

Fogarty said that the town is required to do this type of an analysis under general accounting practices, and that approval of this article will allow the town to "hire a consultant to help us with that study," allowing the town to complete both tasks at one time.

The second article involves the reallocation of funds the town recently received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in reimbursement for flood damage that occurred in October of 2005.

"We're going to be asking the voters to appropriate it back into the stabilization fund," Fogarty said.

The third article will also involve an appropriation, this one approving the use of Chapter 90 monies the town received this summer to pay for road repairs.

Fogarty said the last article on the Oct. 30 Special Town Meeting warrant will involve the fate of the town's Grange building, which is located on Main Street.

"The article will ask the Town Meeting to authorize the Selectmen to dispose of the Grange building," he said.

Fogarty explained that this initial agreement from voters is essential before the town can move forward with plans to sell the property.