By Max Bowenemail@example.com
More than $100,000 is being spent from Free Cash to purchase a new vehicle for the Department of Public Works and balance the budget of the Richards Memorial Library.
Last November, a backhoe used by the DPW was destroyed in a fire. Money from insurance isn’t enough to purchase a new one, and so a request has been made for $52,000 to come from Free Cash, with another $27,000 from an old Town Meeting article. Town Councilor Justin Pare, who chairs the Finance Subcommittee, said the department turned back over $200,000 when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“This supports snow operations as well,” said Pare of the backhoe.
The transfer had the full support of the subcommittee and was approved by Town Council at its Jan. 25 meeting.
The council also approved a $64,000 transfer from Free Cash to support the library. Like the DPW, the library also turned back funds in the spring, when the full impact of COVID-19 wasn’t yet known. However, the library’s turnback has put it in danger of losing accreditation from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
The library doesn’t risk staff or services because of the turnback, but losing accreditation means it won’t have access to the network of libraries that it is a part of. Library Director Frank Ward has promised to return the funds to the town once the accreditation has been approved. The request was approved, 9-0.
“It’s a measure that the town can take pride in,” said Town Manager Michael Borg. “Your support goes to make the library a key and critical part in the community.”
Pare expressed concern that with so many big-ticket items needed—the Community School roof, bleachers at the high school, and work on three town wells—a strategy is necessary for the remainder of the town’s Free Cash.
“This is timely as we’re headed into the budget process,” said Pare.