$37M up for a vote at town meeting; Schools' spending request supported.


Byline: Linda Bock

NORTHBRIDGE - Town meeting members will decide on a $37 million town budget and will consider making repairs and renovations to the historic Aldrich School.

They will also consider purchasing a few new capital items with a one-time debt exclusion: An engine for the Fire Department to replace Engine 4 and three trucks for the Department of Public Works.

Town Manager Theodore D. Kozak is proposing a fiscal 2009 budget of about $37 million, including the School Department budget request of $20.5 million. The Finance Committee is recommending passage of the budget. The town passed an operating budget of $35.7 million for the current fiscal year.

In addition to a number of housekeeping and sewer budget articles, residents will also consider transferring $237,036 from free cash to the School Department for the replacement of school choice funds held by the town that must be repaid. If the transfer is approved tomorrow night, school officials say the funds would be used to reinstate athletics and co-curricular activities. The Finance Committee is recommending passage of the article because the money was deposited into the general fund in error and must be returned to the schools.

The town's spring session of the annual town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the middle school auditorium on Linwood Avenue.

Town meeting voters will be asked to consider purchasing a new fire engine and three public works trucks. In Article 16, voters will be asked to consider appropriating $400,000 to finance the purchase of a new engine truck to replace Engine 4 for the Northbridge Fire Department. The next article will ask voters to consider appropriating $278,000 to finance the purchase of two new medium-duty, all-wheel-drive vehicles with plow attachments, warning lights, communications equipment and one new combination sander-dump truck with plow.

Both articles are contingent on the passage of a Proposition 2-1/2 debt-exclusion ballot vote to be held the same day as the town election, May 20. One question will be on the ballot to fund both articles in the amount of $678,000, and the question requires a majority for passage. Based on the appraisals for fiscal 2008, the average single-family home is $328,000, and the one-year tax...

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