By Jennifer Solis
---- — NEWBURY — Residents can once again tap sand or salt from the highway department to de-ice their driveways and sidewalks this winter.
Selectmen agreed this week to resume the practice by adopting a policy permitting residents to take a maximum of three 5-gallon buckets of salt or sand from the highway department during the winter months.
Buckets may only be filled from 7 to 10 a.m. on the first Friday of each month.
The town had previously stopped the practice because contractors and others were abusing it, selectmen Chairman Joe Story said. But selectmen OK’d the new policy after learning that it met with the approval of Public Works Director Tim Leonard.
In other business:
Selectmen approved use of Fire Department resources for the third annual Old Newbury Bonfire tomorrow from 3 to 9 p.m. at Tendercrop Farm’s growing fields at 71 High Road. The event will include music, food and many family-friendly events and activities.
The board signed off on an assignment of security for a $24,500 performance bond with Angelo Ciardiello of ERA Equipment for 160 feet of road improvements he will complete on Sled Road in conjunction with the development of 101 Newburyport Turnpike. The town will hold the money for two years or until the work is satisfactorily completed, whichever comes first.
The Triton Regional School District invited selectmen to participate in its formal budget process beginning next week. A series of 40-minute presentations by building principals and program administrators will be made next Monday through Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the high school. The school board will then hold a budget workshop on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 8 a.m. to review the budget and all assumptions that are driving it. A budget review is slated for Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m., with a vote on a tentative budget scheduled for the Wednesday, Feb. 13. A public hearing on the budget will be held on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. The Triton school board will then vote a final budget on March 13.
School officials have asked town leaders to provide in writing what they feel is Newbury’s anticipated ability to fund any increase in fixed costs or improvement efforts for the schools next year. The town traditionally targets 50 percent of its new growth dollars to the schools. Town Administrator Tracy Blais told selectmen that, in her experience, the Triton leadership “wants to work with the town and they understand our (financial) situation.”
Five one-day liquor licenses were granted to the Byfield Community Arts Center from January to May for its Cat in the Cradle Coffeehouse and Plum Island Beachcoma Restaurant was given an entertainment permit for Saturday, Feb. 2, from 7 to 10 p.m.
Selectmen also recognized the fundraising efforts of Beachcoma owner Greg Pugh, who has collected $8,000 to date to help offset costs incurred by homeowners dealing with recent beach erosion issues on Plum Island.
The board approved 2013 license renewals for Newbury businesses. It also OK’d a list of public employees and volunteers who are exempt from the state’s mandatory online ethics training. However, selectmen noted that the people who are exempted are still required to follow all state ethics laws.
Selectmen acknowledged a request from David Elwell to fill a vacant seat as fish commissioner, but took no action, deciding instead to have voters elect the new commissioner at the town election in May.
The board forwarded to the Media Committee a request from Mike Doyle to serve as a member. While the committee is not currently looking for new members, it anticipates needing many volunteers in the future. Selectmen will await its feedback.
Blais announced that the tax rate has been set at $11.40 per $1,000 of assessed value. Tax bills were mailed to all property owners on Dec. 31.