AYER -- East Main Street could undergo a $1 million water-line project as part of next fiscal year's budget.

The plan is one of many Capital Planning Committee projects presented at Wednesday's Finance Committee meeting.

The project would replace a major town water line and requires about $104,000 from the reserve. Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand said the plan would be an investment in infrastructure that benefits water quality.

"The East Main Street water main is one of the oldest mains in the town," he said. "It's also one of the primary mains."

The project was the largest out of 13 others the Planning Committee approved for a total of about $2.8 million. The plans are subject to further approval as the Finance Committee reviews budget requests for fiscal 2015.

A new car for the police chief and lieutenant also made the list at about $30,000 each.

"The current car that the chief has again extended its life in terms of mileage, repairs and so forth, so it was the feeling of the committee again that it was time to replace the chief's car," Pontbriand said. "A lot of these vehicles have a lot of wear and tear on them because of the nature of the work."

The Ayer Public Library is also requesting a microfilm scanner to replace the outdated microfiche machine that stores old documents.

"The library is the exclusive keeper of all the newspapers for this area going all the way back," he said.


"They're largely accessible by this piece of equipment."

Pontbriand also presented an administrative budget, including an extra $7,000 in legal-counsel funding that the Finance Committee did not favor.

"It strikes me as extremely high for a town of 7,000 people," said Vice Chairman John Kilcommins.

"Every person pays $12 for a town counsel they get nothing out of, in my opinion."

Pontbriand said the increase to $85,000 takes into account lawsuits against the town, as well as a problem with town roads that will require legal work.

But Chairman Scott Houde said town counsel is often simply thrown out as a quick solution.

"I would almost be hesitant to raise the line," he said. "I think we're paying too much as it is at $78,000."

The town counsel is in a clash with the developer of the Willows neighborhood development, who has not paid $250,000 owed to the town.

Pontbriand said he will ask for rates to determine how the legal fees might better fit into the budget.

The town's recent increase in the townwide life-insurance policy should also add more to the budget, although the selectmen's decision is still subject to the Finance Committee's review.

Pontbriand said officials believe the previous $2,000 life-insurance plan dated to 1959.

"Of course, $2,000 in 1959 as opposed to $2,000 in 2014 is a significant decrease," he said.

The town typically runs on $20,000 in revenue, $11,000 of which goes to operational expenses. The latest fiscal year budget will need approval at the annual Town Meeting.

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