Town meeting is Monday; Two housekeeping articles require action soon.
BOYLSTON - The special town meeting scheduled for Sept. 24 can be called one of technicalities and housekeeping. Voters only have to decide on two warrant articles, both of which may be familiar and neither that, unless voters suddenly object, change town operations.
Special town meeting is set for Monday at 7 p.m. at Tahanto.
Article 1 seeks to move no more than $230,000 from the account in which Hillside rents and fees are deposited - known as the Hillside Receipts Reserved Account - into an account from which money may be spent.
This typically is a routine article at each spring town meeting that this year was inadvertently overlooked. The error was discovered soon after the start of the fiscal year on July 1, when the town tried to pay bills from the account. Without approving the article, the town will have to pay Hillside-related bills from other budget lines, Town Administrator Martin McNamara said.
The money is not tax money, but comes mostly from the rent of Hillside by the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Center, a state police training agency, and from other money collected during the year. It typically is used for routine maintenance and salaries and equipment for that purpose.
McNamara is seeking to take about $48,000 more than usual from the account to deal with repair issues that have been overlooked, and could create water damage if not addressed. Also, the buildings will be painted, using the Worcester County House of Correction Work Release Program to save money.
"The money is there, I think it is about time we used some of it to get the building's repaired," McNamara said.
Article 2 gives a specific date to the already-approved change of adding sixth grade to the Tahanto Regional School System. The change, which required approval of both Berlin and Boylston, was approved by voters in November, 2009. However, the previous article read "upon the opening of the new school."
After a discussion with an official from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (formerly known as the Department of Education), Superintendent Nadine Ekstrom said a specific date needs to be added to the regional agreement.
Article 2 will make that date effective July 1, the start of the fiscal year. Students already in the school will move into the new building in January, if all goes according to schedule.
"Nobody wants to move the sixth-graders in January," Ekstrom said. "It is hard enough for people who are already together - grades seven through 12 - to move halfway through the year."
In addition, the town did not factor the change from a town expense to a regional assessment into the current budget, which means the money would not be in the regional budget to absorb the new grade, nor would the state aid formula account for the students.
The article is being brought forward now, not in May, because the state requires the regional agreement change by Dec. 31, Ekstrom said.
While the fiscal year officially begins July 1, the state begins to work on the budget in January. If the change from a grade seven to 12 region is not official by that time, next year's state aid would not be correct, with more money allocated for the towns, and not enough allocated for Tahanto.
"The state still has not approved that change," she said. "Nobody wants to do all that if the state could still say `no.' This is a technicality, and we want to make sure all our T's are crossed and our I's are dotted."