TEWKSBURY -- Annual Town Meeting Monday night swiftly and unanimously approved a $91.9 million annual budget, but some smaller fund transfers drew scrutiny from residents who wanted to know exactly how the money would be used.

A handful of residents peppered officials with questions over articles involving the use of $788,195 in stabilization funds for one-time school expenses and a sum of $120,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for park upgrades. Both articles were approved.

Three people asked why the schools' expenditures for buildings and maintenance, technology and instructional needs were not part of the department's $56.9 million annual budget.

"If you need the money, budget it and fight for it, but don't make it a separate article," said Westland Drive resident Kevin Donnelly.

Town Manager Richard Montuori responded that the items were one-time expenditures, not recurring costs that would be budgeted. The required two-thirds of a Town Meeting vote actually makes it harder to get the money approved, he said.

Residents stepped up again to question why improvements at Wamesit Park would cost $70,000 and Muster Park $50,000.

"I guess I'm having a problem seeing how the town is going to spend $70,000 on a 10,000-square-foot park," said Warren Carey, who attended Town Meeting with his wife, Liz. "If I wanted to spruce my lot up at 3 Marion Drive before I moved out, and Liz wanted to spend $70,000, I'd go through the roof."

Planning Board member Robert Fowler said the sum would fund "a very significant project" that included drainage and adding in curbs.


"It's not just planting grass and a few trees," he said.

A total of 148 residents attended the Town Meeting session that lasted less than an hour and a half and passed nearly all the capital items on the warrant.

The only item not passed, the use of an additional $825,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for Town Hall renovations, was postponed until Wednesday. Reed said bids for the remodel will arrive Tuesday, so waiting will give a full picture of the cost.

Annual Town Meeting will reconvene to take up the $825,000 transfer and 12 proposed bylaw amendments Wednesday night at 8 p.m., after Special Town Meeting at 7 p.m.

Other items approved by annual Town Meeting include:

* The use of $329,000 in Sewer Enterprise Fund retained earnings for purchases including pump-station upgrades and a portable generator.

* The use of $875,000 in Water Enterprise Fund retained earnings for purchases including a hydrant replacement program and water-tank mixers.

* The use of $116,968 from the Stabilization Fund for stormwater and drainage mapping, and for police equipment including the replacement of radios and mobile data terminals in cruisers.

* The appropriation of $1,650,000 for installing and replacing waterline on Clark Road and Crest Road, and the acquisition of a private 12-inch waterline on Clark Road.

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