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Short special town meeting yields 'yeas'

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN The only article on the Hampden Special Town Meeting warrant for Dec. 3 was simply "a housekeeping item," according to Selectman and Board of Health chair Rick Green.

The article asked to see if the town would vote to raise and appropriate $100,000 -- $20,000 for salaries and $80,000 for expenses -- from anticipated transfer station revenues for the purpose of funding for fiscal year 2008 the Transfer Station Enterprise Fund established pursuant to Article 10 on the April 20 Annual Town Meeting warrant.

"The Massachusetts Department of Revenue said we needed to be more explicit in the text accompanying the enterprise fund," Green explained. "The fund was approved back in April. The town moderator and the town clerk were both willing to sign waivers, saying there was plenty of discussion held at the last town meeting."

Green estimated 200 Hampden residents attended the April town meeting, when a "very thoughtful discussion" of an enterprise fund took place and was accepted. Approximately 45 residents plus 10 town officials came to the December meeting.

"The only issue was the technical wording," Green said.

The transfer station enterprise fund was established to keep the funds for the station separate from town funds. According to Green, the station's only source of revenue is the bags purchased for refuse taken there.

"This lets the transfer station stand alone and any excess funds could be used to make capital improvements," Green said. "In towns where there is an ambulance enterprise fund, excess money could be used to buy another ambulance rather than be funneled through the town. This fund could help buy a new compactor at the transfer station."

The station had a revenue of approximately $90,000 during the last fiscal year, with about $12,000 going toward salaries, $1,000 for utilities, $50,000 for tipping fees (the dumping of the refuse) and $16,000 covering miscellaneous costs, which included $10,000 for bags.

From the beginning of July through the beginning of December, the station has made approximately $39,000, with expenses totaling $27,000.

"The enterprise fund is all set up," Green explained, "but no funds have been spent yet." He added that he expects the Department of Revenue's approval to come through "in days -- in minutes."

The town of Hampden does not have any other enterprise funds.