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Money for schools debated; Stabilization fund eyed at town forum.

Byline: Susan Spencer

UXBRIDGE - Budget issues and bylaw amendments will be hot topics at the annual town meeting, starting at 7 p.m. May 14 in the Uxbridge High School auditorium.

Town Manager Sean Hendricks said that within the $37.9 million fiscal 2014 proposed budget, which voters will be asked to authorize, there is a roughly $800,000 gap between the $17.3 million proposed in the town manager's budget for Uxbridge schools and the $18.1 million requested by the School Department.

"There's a good chance there's going to be a motion made on the floor at town meeting to move money from the stabilization fund (to schools)," Mr. Hendricks said.

"While I support the schools," he said, "we don't like to see stabilization used for operational expenses. There are other options out there."

Mr. Hendricks said it was important for voters to come to town meeting and have a say in "how to spend the town's savings account."

A transfer from the stabilization fund would require a two-thirds majority vote.

Another financial issue, Article 12, would authorize borrowing $3,186,000 over 20 years for the design and construction of water main improvements along North Main Street and South Main Street, Route 122. The annual principal and interest would average $191,160.

Passage of the article, requested by the Department of Public Works director, would place the town in a better position to obtain a 2 percent loan from the state Water Pollution Abatement Trust to replace the old universal pipe and make hydraulic improvements in the water system. According to the warrant article commentary, the old pipes are subject to a high volume of breaks and leaks.

The Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen recommended favorable action on this article.

A two-thirds majority vote is required for borrowing authorizations.

Two-thirds majority votes are also required for bylaw amendments such as one proposed in Article 20, which would regulate precious metal dealers under the town's general bylaws. Under the proposed bylaw, precious metal or precious or semiprecious stone dealers in town would be required to obtain a license from the Board of Selectmen. License holders would have to submit weekly reports to the police chief with accurate descriptions of all items purchased.

Article 20 was requested by the chief of police as a way to crack down on the quick sale of stolen property. Favorable action was recommended by the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen.

Article 21 would amend the zoning bylaws to include bituminous asphalt manufacturing on the list of manufacturing establishments prohibited in town.

While the proposed article would not be retroactive and would not apply to the approval of a special permit by the Planning Board this winter for an asphalt plant in South Uxbridge, it would reinstate a prohibition approved at town meeting in 1995, which many residents saw as mistakenly omitted when the bylaws were recodified in 2008.

The Finance Committee recommended favorable action on Article 21 by a 4-2-0 vote; a motion for favorable action by the Board of Selectmen failed with a 2-2-0 vote; and the Planning Board recommended unfavorable action with a 4-0-0 vote.

Contact Susan Spencer at Follow her on Twitter @SusanSpencerTG.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 10, 2013
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