$82K for Chromebooks among Saugus requests

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SAUGUS — Chromebooks for students, pump station repairs, and a new fire truck dominate warrants for the May 1 Annual Town Meeting and a Special Town Meeting.

The Board of Selectmen closed warrants for the meetings. The purpose is to close the special Town Meeting sooner, rather than waiting for the annual meeting to close, which could be as late as June 30, said Town Manager Scott Crabtree.

When the meetings end with unfinished business, they resume to the following Monday until all decisions are made.

The School Committee submitted a request for $82,000 for the one-time purchase of Chromebooks for Saugus Public Schools, which are necessary to comply with statewide computer-based testing, such as MCAS.

Crabtree also included a request to fund Chromebooks, citing confusion about whether the School Department had already requested the money.

“They haven’t identified a source of funding,” Crabtree said. “It’s kind of difficult when you don’t have a conversation with the Town Manager. I also have heard discussions that they may have money within their budget to pay for the Chromebooks.”

Town Meeting members will first take up articles that include appropriating money to repair and maintain parks and playgrounds; to design, construct, repair and replace parks and playgrounds and parks; and to make capital improvements to the Lincoln Avenue Pumping Station.

Crabtree said the pumping station, which hasn’t seen major improvements in more than a decade, is in need of repairs and upgrades. He said the existing station is worth about $100 million but is in need of a new bypass. He called the issue a time sensitive priority.

Crabtree is also asking to add money to the town’s stabilization fund. He said he hopes to increase the town’s bond rating to Triple A, so they can pay less interest when borrowing and allow the town’s tax dollars to go further.

“These articles that I’m asking for sort of stay in line with what our priorities are,” said Crabtree. “We’re continuing to take action to build the town’s financial health and stability, improve parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields, and (make) town-wide improvements for our infrastructure.”

The Annual Special Town Meeting articles will follow.

Several articles from Crabtree include a request to purchase a new fire engine for the Fire Department, and to appropriate money for a Post-Employment Benefits Liability Trust. He also wants members to reauthorize revolving funds for supporting recreational programs, and for activities at the senior center.

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

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