Budget, Pot Rules Top Ashby TM Warrant
By Mina Corpuz
ASHBY -- Twenty-five articles, including a proposed $8.28 million municipal budget and six petition articles, will be on the warrant for Saturday’s Town Meeting.
The Finance Committee voted 3-1 to recommend the town budget at an April 17 joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen. Finance Chairman Kevin Stetson was the dissenting vote.
″(Voters) need to question everything in the budget,” he said.
A handful of other articles, including citizens petitions, are also financial matters.
Article 11 would appropriate $195,000 for a new dump truck with a plow for the Highway Department. That article received a recommendation from the Finance Committee in a 3-1 vote with Stetson as the no vote.
Article 12, a citizens petition, would establish a reserve transfer account to eliminate unclassified expenditures. It would be used only “where it is absolutely and with value legally necessary” and be controlled by the Finance Committee.
Town Administrator Bob Hanson asked who would make the value judgments about what funding is necessary.
The committee didn’t recommend the warrant article.
Stetson said it would be good to know whether “someone is checking up” and looking at unused expenses.
Article 20 would deny the use of certified free cash without a vote at Town Meeting, which the Finance Committee did not recommend.
Another citizens petition, Article 14, asks for copies of a line item breakdown of all of the departments’ budget requests. Hanson pointed out that printing all of that information would be a burden for the town and Finance Committee member Liryc Donald said voters could attend the committee’s meetings to receive the information.
The Finance voted 3-0 to not recommend the article. Stetson abstained.
Two articles relate to the town’s “sunset bylaw,” which was passed in 2014. It says that if a project is not encumbered or completed within three years, the funding will be automatically transferred back to the town’s general fund.
Selectman Michael McCallum said Article 22 proposes to delete the phrase in the town’s bylaw because it has no purpose.
Some of the problems with the bylaw are that there could be delays in the process for money to become available, the money doesn’t always come from the town’s general fund, and it could be to someone’s advantage to leave the money unused, he said.
McCallum used the town’s public safety building project as an example of where the sunset bylaw could be an obstacle.
“We could be in the process of doing something and the money goes away,” he said.
The Finance Committee voted 3-1 to recommend the article with Stetson as the no vote.
The warrant also includes three articles that would update the town’s zoning bylaws for marijuana establishments.
One zoning amendment would allow only one recreational marijuana establishment in the town’s industrial district.
It also would prohibit social consumption, which is the ability people to use marijuana on-site, in the town’s marijuana establishments or dispensaries.
Two other zoning articles would bring language in the town’s bylaw more in line with the state’s. They would add the word “licensed” to the types of allowable marijuana businesses and change “site” to “marijuana establishments.”
Town Meeting will be held at Ashby Elementary School on Main Street beginning at 9:30 a.m.
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