Milford nixes gravel plan School district and town deal with default budgets

MILFORD – Both the Milford town and school budgets were rejected by voters last week, and now officials are looking for ways to make up the difference between the operating budgets and the default budgets.

On the school side, the difference is $96,523, and Monday night the school board chose between two sets of options provided by administrators and chose the one that includes, among several other items, reducing replacement equipment at the middle school – a weather station, a teacher computer and art stools, as well as a general cut in benefits.

Town Administrator Mark Bender and Town Finance Director Jack Sheehy are looking at how to make up the $121,000 difference between the town operating and default budget.

“I am confident I’ll be able to bridge the gap,” Bender said. “A lot of small things will add up to the full amount.”

One DPW employee, for example is returning to work in April, but his position was budgeted for a full year, so that means three months’ worth of savings.

The most contentious issue this year was a plan to give the town permission to take earth resources from the southern half of the Brox property. The article lost by a narrow margin, 1,063 no to 1,000 yes.

The Brox Environmental Citizens had lobbied against the plan, saying the land should remain natural. Selectmen maintain that gravel and other resources could be an important source of town revenue and the gravel should be removed before sports fields and other municipal development begins.

Voters did re-elect the two selectmen incumbents, Gary Daniels and Mark Fougere, by wide margins. Ron Carvell won the uncontested three-year school board post of retiring board member Peter Bragdon and Gil Archambault lost to
incumbent Mike Putnam for a three-year seat as water-wastewater commissioner.

A proposal for a new public library building lost by a vote of 1,188 no and 953 yes. A 60 percent majority was needed to pass, or 1,284.

But a proposal to extend the town water main down Elm Street west, which also needed a 60 percent majority, received it with a vote of 1,378 to 677. A bond for storm sewer video inspection equipment failed to get the needed 60 percent.

Public works department requests for a dump truck and a sidewalk tractor-plow also lost at the polls, but voters OK’d the repair of the Jennision Road bridge and said yes to putting $175,000 in a bridge replacement capital reserve fund.

Funding for the Pumpkin Festival, parades, community transportation, summer band concerts and fireworks were all approved, and so was a non-monetary article asking that the Jones Road-Elm Street intersection be opened.

Money for social services and conservation land funds was also approved, and so were collective bargaining agreements with teachers and town employees who are members of the Teamsters Union.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or
kcleveland@cabinet.com.