, Newburyport, MA

May 8, 2013

Library tops questions facing voters

By Angeljean Chiaramida

---- — SALISBURY — The proposed library project faces its final hurdle at Town Meeting on May 20, when voters will decide if the town is allowed to issue bonds needed to construct the new, larger building.

Listed on the 30-question warrant as Article 25, this will be the final decision needed to replace the current 3,000-square-foot library with a modern 17,000-square-foot edifice. But it needs more than a simple majority to get a green light. Because it concerns issuing bonds,Town Meeting must pass the article by a super majority vote before the project will move ahead.

On April 30, about 32 percent of those voting approved placing the question on the warrant. When the vote of 1,134 in favor and 733 opposed was announced, it drew the biggest cheer of the night. Although admittedly very happy with the vote, Salisbury Library Trustee Joe Stucker warned followers their work wasn’t done yet. He advised them to take the momentum into Town Meeting.

The article requests approval to borrow $7,500,000, the total cost of the project, but adds “provided that such sum is to be reduced by the receipt of a $3,856,187 provisional grant awarded” by the state Board of Library Commissioners. The sum may be also reduced by another $400,000, the amount Salisbury Public Library supporters have promised to supply from their fundraising campaign.

To get the $3.8 million state grant, however, Salisbury Town Meeting must approve putting up its share of the cost by June 30. If this vote fails, it could be years before the state is willing to offer the grant again.

Town Meeting will also be asked for permission to borrow $1,026,372 to make energy conservation improvements to some of its public buildings that will save substantial sums for the town over the next 20 years. The request comes after surveys were done to pinpoint ways to conserve energy in town.

A proposed town operating budget of $20,127,443 is also up for a vote. Representing a 3 percent increase over the current budget, $9,487,410 of it will go toward paying for the town’s Triton Regional School District assessment.

The proposed budget holds money to hire personnel for the first time in years. The money will go toward hiring full-time people in the public works and fire departments, as well as a lieutenant for the police department.

Town Meeting will also be asked to authorize selectmen to acquire Long Hill Cemetery. The Beach Road burial site is currently private, but according to Town Manager Neil Harrington, Long Hill’s trustees have requested the town assume responsibility. Harrington said the funds Long Hill currently holds would be passed on to the town to cover maintenance.

In tandem with this request, Town Meeting is asked to establish a five-member Cemetery Commission to oversee all the town’s cemeteries.

Town Meeting will decide how the town will handle taxing its new solar facility. An article requests permission to enter into a 20-year financial agreement with the owners of the True North solar farm on Rabbit Road to establish a set payment schedule for the next two decades. Known as “payment-in-lieu-of-taxes,” if approved, it would alleviate the need to haggle over the worth of the utility every year, and the town would be assured of a steady revenue stream.

Three citizen’s petitions appear on the budget proposed by voters. One requests a change to the town’s zoning, allowing the raising and keeping of livestock, horses and poultry for commercial use in the Commercial 2 zoning district in town, instead of allowing such activities only by special permit.

Another would require two-thirds approval from Town Meeting before town officials, boards or commissions can establish any new policy or enforce any existing policy.

And the third petitioned article requests the use of actual water meter readings for the billing of water and sewer fees, instead of EQRs (equivalent residential unit), as well as eliminates water and sewer fees when meters are removed.

Complete copies of the Town Meeting Warrant are available at the town clerk’s office on the first floor of Town Hall, and are also available at Salisbury Public Library.

Town Meeting meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 20, at Salisbury Elementary School.