Debris removal given short shrift by voters.
Byline: Richard J. Hafey
PAXTON - Voters last night rejected borrowing $1.5 million for costs of the December ice storm, a move that Selectman Frederick G. Goodrich said could mean shutting down all non-essential services such as the library, recreation programs and the Council on Aging.
In addition, said Mr. Goodrich, chairman of the selectmen, it could mean significant cuts in the police, fire and Department of Public Works budgets, which have already suffered cuts in an attempt to balance the budget.
About 15 people spoke on the article, some of them opposed, others with suggestions of other ways to handle the debris, such as homeowners doing it themselves.
The vote, which required a two-thirds majority, was 77- 71 in favor. The only other article, calling for the transfer of $20,000 from available funds in the water enterprise fund to continue an engineering study to determine the feasibility of developing a town-owned water supply at Asnebumskit Reservoir, passed easily without debate.
The $1.5 million represents an estimate by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the storm. The town was expecting 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA and 25 percent from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency; Town Manager Charles T. Blanchard said last night the latter was in question because of the state's financial situation.
The town has already spent $706,238 in its emergency response to the ice storm. That was for clearing public ways, and collection of 50,522 cubic yards of trees, limbs and branches now stored at temporary sites at Klingele Fields and the West Street playground. That $706,238 represents further cuts that must be made in the budget.