Saugus faces big money decisions; Renovations, water-rate hike on tap

SAUGUS – When Town Meeting gets under way this evening, members will face a warrant with 25 articles, including one to authorize borrowing for a $19-million renovation of the Belmonte Middle School and another to raise water rates.A special school building committee has been examining the project, which could cost roughly $18.9 million, but the town is eligible to receive 51.2-percent reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, according to Superintendent Richard Langlois.School Committee member Arthur Grabowski said the Finance Committee has recommended the expenditure.”This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Grabowski said. “The town’s share will be 49 percent. The state’s share is 51.2 percent, which is nearly $10 million. Why would we turn away $10 million? In this day and age, that would be crazy.”Article No. 4, the Belmonte Middle School renovation plan,notes the project would extend the useful life of the school and preserve a town asset.Among other issues contained in the warrant are whether to appropriate funds for capital improvements to the town’s sewer system, including the payment of all costs related to the task. The vote would determine if this money should be raised by borrowing from the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust or form another source.Town Meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.Town Warrant Breakdown:A brief summary of other articles in the town warrant:- Article 6 is a vote to appropriate money to replace the pumping station on Route 1.u Article 7 and 8 relate to the Water Enterprise Fund and the Sewer Enterprise Fund for fiscal 2012.- Article 9 would reauthorize a revolving fund to support recreational programs for the community. Established fees would be used for the operating expenses necessary to maintain the recreational programs.- Article 10 would re-authorize a revolving fund to support the water system cross-connection program. It establishes fees for operating expenses in connection with maintaining the program as mandated by the state Department of Environmental Protection.- Article 11 would re-authorize a revolving fund to support programs and activities at the Senior Center.u Article 12 would re-authorize a revolving fund for the Senior Lunch Program at the Senior Center.- Article 13 would provide funds for general maintenance and upkeep of buildings and grounds at Riverside Cemetery. Funds would be taken from the Cemetery Land Sales Account.- Article 14 appropriates funds for paving streets contiguous to Hamilton Street, which has emerged as a controversial issue in town. Hamilton Street residents want the money used for concrete sidewalks rather than asphalt, while side-street residents want their respective roadways resurfaced. Many of the side streets are in disrepair as a result of the Hamilton Street construction, which required detours.- Article 15, submitted by resident Theresa Lehane, is related in that it would fund the removal of asphalt already laid along Hamilton Street and replace it with concrete.- Article 16 establishes a committee to study the feasibility for the town to operate a Fire Department-based ambulance service. The committee would consist of five members -? three Town Meeting Members, the fire chief and one town resident. The article was submitted by resident and firefighter Jeffrey D. Moses.- Article 17 would accept Alberta Drive as an official town street.- Article 18 would authorize the selectmen to grant an easement to Verizon New England to install aerial or underground facilities on Main Street.- Article 19 adopts a bylaw to establish a fee for curbside rubbish removal and recycling. Changes in the town’s trash collection policy are scheduled to go into effect in August when the amount of trash allowed at the curb on any given week will be reduced from five barrels to three, and eventually to two per household.- Article 20 seeks funds for the purchase of capital equipment for the Highway Department, subjec

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