AP NEWS

Ashby TM Approves $8M Budget

May 6, 2019

ASHBY -- Town Meeting voters on Saturday approved an $8.28 million budget and a bylaw update that could make it easier to keep funding for town-approved projects.

“It was business as usual,” Town Administrator Bob Hanson said Monday.

The Fiscal 2020 budget was 4 percent higher than the previous year. It passed with no amendments, Hanson said.

Article 22 proposed deleting a “sunset bylaw” that puts town-approved project funding back into the general account if a project isn’t completed within three years.

Selectman Michael McCallum explained what the bylaw is and its challenges at Town Meeting.

The problem with the bylaw is that there could be delays in when money is available and that it could be to someone’s advantage to leave money unused, he said in April when selectmen approved the warrant.

The public safety building the town is trying to build is an example of how the bylaw could affect projects, McCallum said. The town approved money for the project and it’s waiting on the rest -- state bond money -- to be released.

Town Meeting voters approved $195,000 for the Highway Department to procure a dump truck with a plow.

Three articles that proposed updates for the town’s zoning bylaws for marijuana establishments passed.

One zoning amendment allows only one recreational marijuana establishment in the town’s industrial district.

The other two zoning articles will make language in the town’s bylaw more in line with state regulations.

Article 18 was a deed of easement for the town to build an emergency communications tower on Fitchburg State Road.

The warrant also included six citizens petitions, half of which related to the town’s use of money. None of them passed.

All of the petitions weren’t recommended by the Finance Committee because they weren’t legal, could have a negative impact on the town, or are already being addressed.

Article 12 proposed eliminating unclassified expenditures by establishing a reserve transfer account controlled by the Finance Committee.

The fund would be outside the committee’s scope, members said previously.

Another citizen’s petition asked for the town to prepare copies of line item budget requests from all the town’s departments.

Printing that information could be a burden to the town, Hanson previously said.

Article 20 sought to prohibit the town from using certified free cash without a Town Meeting vote.

The other citizens petitions that were rejected proposed for selectmen and the Finance Committee to hold a meeting for voter’s information before special or annual Town Meeting, for the town to establish a bylaw committee to correct errors in the town’s bylaws, and establishment of a personnel board to negotiate contracts.

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