TYNGSBORO -- The roads are so bad for resident Kathleen Spaethe, she said she had to trade in her PT Cruiser for a Jeep.
"I need an off-road vehicle to get to my house," Spaethe said, who lives on Minuteman Lane.
On Tuesday night at Annual and Special Town Meeting, voters debated the merits of awarding $1.6 million for repairs and reconstruction to roads across town. Selectman Bob Jackson, a proponent of the measure, said this would put a dent in the town's 100-year plan. That's how long it would take the community to repair the roads without the appropriation that night, he said.
The Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen Chairman Karyn Puleo, however, said they wished to wait on the vote. Puleo, who serves on the Capital Asset Management Committee, suggested there may be other town projects the money should go toward.
With a vote too close to call, Town Moderator Robert Kydd asked for a hand count. Voters flashed their pink cards. With a two-thirds majority vote required, the article failed, 70 to 58.
Jackson said after the meeting he would not pursue bringing forward another article like this. Through debt exclusion, he estimated a homeowner with a $400,000 property would pay an extra $100 in taxes for the next five years for the proposal.
"I think it's a missed opportunity for Tyngbsoro," he said. "If there's someone else on the board that feels as strongly as I have over the last two years for (this)..., I would support them. But I have no intention. The people have spoken and I've heard them, loud and clear."
Plowing through 38 main articles in three hours Tuesday, voters also addressed the issue of spraying for mosquitoes after a horse found with EEE died last summer. For $43,000 per year for about three years, a strong majority of about 130 attendees decided they didn't want to take on the added costs. School Committee Chairman Hillari Wennerstrom noted the measure would likely mean a cut to staff in the schools.
Two articles related to appointing the tax collector and the town clerk, rather than through an election process, proved controversial. Residents said they wished to maintain voting power, while Puleo noted the Government Study subcommittee ruled this would make town government more efficient.
Both articles did not pass and an article on this subject for tree warden was withdrawn. Town Clerk Joanne Shifres noted she did not support the measure because she believed there could be a conflict of interest in selectmen appointing the clerk who oversees their own election.
Resident David Marcucci next proposed an amendment for the proposed "demolition by neglect" bylaw. Selectmen recommended they hold hearings on buildings falling into disrepair and determine whether they be demolished. Marcucci wished to take out any language that would impose fines on residents, fearing it could harm the community and specifically, senior citizens. When Marcucci's amendment passed 51-45 by a hand count, selectmen voted to withdraw the article.
Town Meeting voters also passed an approximate $33.4 million budget without discussion. On an article to fund construction for the West Sewer System and part of the town's wastewater-management plan, Sewer Commission Chairman Jeffrey Hannaford withdrew it, stating the group received a flawed report from a consultant.
An article passed related to pedestrian safety, too. The article bans residents from holding signs on traffic islands around town, designated by Police Chief Richard Howe. Marcucci said he feared this would single out panhandlers, but Howe said his department would not discriminate.
At the conclusion of the meeting, voters gave Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto a standing ovation. He has entered into contract negotiations to take a similar position in North Reading.
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