Council divided on Stabilization Fund transfer, passes by a vote of 4-3

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By Max Bowen

max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

A measure proposed—and defeated—last fall got a second chance at the recent Town Council meeting.

As part of his proposal for the town’s Free Cash, Acting Town Manager Michael Gallagher had proposed that $1.1 million be transferred to the town’s Stabilization Fund last November. Doing that would have put the account at 5 percent of the town’s budget, which would improve its bond rating. The measure failed as the council felt there were more immediate needs.

At Monday’s meeting, Gallagher made this proposal once again, though now the figure has grown to $1.2 million. Gallagher said that with several projects likely to come up down the road, it made sense to make this transfer.

This is an opportunity to put the money away for those projects we know are happening,” said Gallagher.

Among these are the two Statements of Interest which the town has submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. These SOIs pertain to renovations and expansion of North Attleborough High School and the construction of a new elementary school and demolition of Amvet Boulevard. If approved, a feasibility study would be next, at a price of approximately $1 million each.

Some on the council expressed concern over seeing this request before them once again. Councilor Darius Gregory felt that a detailed plan to spend this money would have helped. Councilor Justin Pare agreed, asking why this was back and with a greater amount.

I’m hoping for something more creative to be done,” said Pare. “My perspective hasn’t changed on this.”

Gallagher said his approach was a conservative one, something he has worked to accomplish the last four years. He told the council that making this transfer didn’t put the money out of reach, though spending it would require a two-thirds vote.

I didn’t do this lightly,” he said. “I tried to look at what we had out there and what kinds of things we could do. My concern is long-term.”