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December 4, 2013

Selectman proposes changes to CPC

NEWBURY — Selectmen are considering the need to revamp the make-up and responsibilities of the Capital Planning Committee (CPC).

At a meeting last week, Selectman Michael Bulgaris suggested raising the dollar-limit requirement that triggers the need for a proposed project to undergo CPC review from $10,000 to $50,000, or even $100,000. He’d also like to see the make-up of the committee changed to replace one of two members of the Finance Committee with a member of the Board of Selectmen.

At Annual Town Meeting in 2007 voters adopted a CPC bylaw that calls for a panel consisting of two members of the Finance Committee, the town administrator, and two at-large registered voters who are appointed by the selectmen.

CPC is tasked with developing a long-range planning program for municipal capital improvements, and evaluating and prioritizing projects that involve major, non-reoccurring tangible assets that have a useful life of at least five years and cost more than $10,000.

The Planning Committee is specifically concerned with physical facilities such as land and buildings, or pieces of equipment that require a relatively large investment.

The other selectmen agreed that there needs to be a better definition of “capital improvement,” but felt tying the review trigger to the state’s $25,000 limit made more sense than higher amounts suggested by Bulgaris.

Selectmen also felt an adjustment in the bylaw’s wording was needed to clarify that the CPC is strictly an advisory board and is not legally authorized to prohibit a proposed project from coming to Town Meeting floor.

According to the Capital Improvements program manual for the Town of Newbury, “No appropriation shall be voted for a capital improvement requested by a department, board or commission unless the proposed capital improvement is considered in the committee’s report, or the committee shall first have submitted a report to the Board of Selectmen explaining the omission.”

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