Voters approve budget, special revenue fund for cable access
Friday, March 15, 2013
BROOKLINE – About 80 residents approved all 13 articles at the annual Town Meeting on March 13.
The lengthiest of discussions centered around the operating budget, which was amended to be reduced by $60,000 for a final figure of $3,994,329.
Selectman Darrell Philpot explained that in previous years, the town had spent under its allotted budget. Finance Committee members were originally opposed to the proposed article, not recommending it by a 2-0 vote, but they later said the amendment changed their view and they supported the new figure.
In a Powerpoint presentation, Philpot also pointed to some key drivers for the 3.4 percent increase over, including plowing and sanding costs, a rise in transfer station costs due to a lack of recycling, he said, and health insurance.
A emphatic discussion was had on Article 7 when voters moved to appropriate $30,000 for road and bridge improvements. Finance Committee member Dennis Skey said he believed the money would be “not well spent” without an initial plan in place for those funds. Town residents also voiced their support and concern on Article 11, for whether Finance Committee positions should be upgraded to three-year seats rather than remaining at annual posts. Some argued committee members need time to learn Brookline’s finances beyond one year, while others said they felt participation in town politics was minimal enough and an extended term may defer some people from running for those positions.
The town also voted to approve $51,977 for purchasing two new Lifepak 15 defibrillators, $25,000 for renovating the Town Hall for additional office space after the police department moved out of the building’s basement and $10,000 for the updating of a Brookline history book written in 1914 by Edward Parker, according to Town Administrator Tad Putney.
On Article 8, on the question of whether to raise $32,900 for milfoil control efforts for Potanipo Pond, an emotional plea was made to the town to approve the article when resident Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt compared the pollution there to her multiple sclerosis diagnosis. She said additional funds were needed to repair the area, the same way her physical therapy was necessary to improve her health. Her remarks concluded with a round of applause from voters before they approved the vote.
Voters were asked to reconsider authorizing money for the special revenue fund for cable access, to allow for maintenance of Channel 13 as well as the town website. Voters were asked to vote on this same question on the March 12 ballot. The vote needed two-thirds majority to pass, but received a 193-57 vote. At Town Meeting, however, Town Moderator Peter Webb explained that town officials were unclear on proper voting procedure and asked for the vote to be taken again, to be safe. The question passed March 13 by ballot voting and was also accepted by voters in a 98-15 vote.