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Meeting impresses new administrator; Voters approve budget transfers.

Byline: Lynne Klaft

LUNENBURG - Just three days on the job, Kerry A. Speidel, Lunenburg's new chief administrative officer, sat on the stage with town officials at Wednesday's special town meeting.

"I honestly had no idea what to expect, whether or not we would be there until midnight, but I thought the meeting was conducted in a very efficient and professional manner, and went well," said Ms. Speidel.

The warrant, with the exception of two articles concerning the town clerk, was approved.

The two rejected articles would have reopened this year's budget, changed the town clerk's status to full time, and increased her salary to $34,025.

Article 1, needing a simple majority, was narrowly defeated, 113-110, after two hand counts.

Needing a two-thirds vote, Article 2, seeking to increase the clerk's salary, was withdrawn after the defeat of Article 1.

About a third of the audience left after the tally of the hand count, and voters quickly approved the remaining 14 articles in little over an hour.

Articles approved included: midyear budgetary transfers; placing $350,000 in an affordable housing account; $34,649 for a police cruiser; $322,432 for road repairs; special legislation for assessment of sewer and water improvements at Meadow Woods mobile home park; and allowing residents or elected officials to serve on the Personnel Board and other committees concurrently.

Other approved warrant articles included: setting a Feb. 15 deadline for the chief administrative officer to submit a budget to the Finance Committee; changing the way undeveloped commercial lots are assessed for sewer betterments; and giving the Fire Department jurisdiction over fire and emergency details at events on town property.

Voters approved the creation of a public access cable committee and bylaws; three storm water management bylaws mandated by the state; and acceptance of Sequoia Drive as a public way through eminent domain.

Residents questioned the change in the method of determining sewer betterment assessments to commercially zoned property.

"Say you assess a hypothetical property for 50 lots, but when you go to develop them, you find you can't get 50 lots out of the property, will you refund that assessment?" asked a resident.

Selectmen, with town counsel weighing in, said the town is completing betterments for all properties. When residents receive that betterment assessment, they will have time to challenge the assessment and file an abatement request if they think it is incorrect. After that time is up, no abatements can be approved by the Sewer Commission.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 7, 2007
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