Select Board sets fall STM date; CPIC delays old library roof repair

The Select Board voted last week to convene a fall Special Town Meeting, Monday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. in upper Town Hall.

Special town meetings are a common fall occurrence in Massachusetts towns, typically called to deal with business that can’t wait until annual town meetings in the spring.

So far, two financial articles seem destined for this year’s STM warrant. DPW director Tim Kilhart has asked to purchase an additional paper compactor for the Transfer Station, at an estimated cost of $35,000. And the Capital Planning and Investment Committee has recommended that Town Meeting rescind its authorization to borrow an estimated $383,000 to restore the front entrance of the old library. But a third request to repair the leaky roof at the old library will be delayed until spring.

The new paper compactor is needed to deal with the increased volume of cardboard Harvard residents are recycling, Kilhart told CPIC members earlier this month. And as if to prove his point, the compactor was full by noon Wednesday this week, according to CPIC Co-chair SusanMary Redinger, and residents were discarding their cardboard next to it on the ground. He says that should the town move to a pay-per-bag plan for the Transfer Station next summer, paper volume could increase by an additional 30 percent. The more quickly the compactor fills, the more frequently its contents need to be hauled away, at a cost of $275 per trip. Having a second compactor would lower the total haul-aways per year. Purchase of a new compactor should be done now and not postponed until next fiscal year, Kilhart has argued.

As for the restoration of the front entrance of the old library, a grant of $192,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund has lowered the amount the town will need to contribute to the project, scheduled to begin in October. CPIC members have recommended that the remaining estimated $190,000 needed to complete the work be taken from the Capital Stabilization and Investment Fund. Once the 10 capital spending articles approved by this year’s ATM are subtracted, the fund has a $3.1 million balance. In addition to approving the use of capital fund money, Special Town Meeting will be asked to rescind the May 5 ATM vote to borrow the full amount, dodging the increase in FY19 taxes its passage would have required.

Articles for the October STM warrant must be submitted to the Select Board by Sept. 24. That’s not enough time to prepare an accurate estimate of the work required to repair the old library roof, town officials and CPIC members agreed at their Monday meeting this week. The leaks are a winter-spring problem, said Assistant Town Administrator Marie Sobalvarro, and can be endured until next year.

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