At their Feb. 14 meeting, China selectmen dealt with three issues before continuing review of the proposed 2022-23 budget.
Lacking complete information on a few budget items, they scheduled a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, despite the town office being closed that day for the Presidents’ Day holiday.
The longest pre-budget discussion was with Palermo select board chairman Robert Kurek, about the price Palermo residents pay for trash bags under the contract that lets them use China’s transfer station.
The contract sets four parameters affecting changes in bag costs: the cost of living, transportation and disposal costs, state mandates (which so far have been irrelevant) and the price China pays to buy the bags. It requires China officials to give Palermo six months’ notice of any increase.
Kurek has developed formulas for translating words into dollars. For example, he defines the cost of living increase as the change between Dec. 31, 2016 (the day before the contract came into force), and Aug. 31, 2021 (when China officials proposed upping Palermo residents’ price).
Kurek asked China select board members to appoint someone to review his formula with him and make sure it is acceptable. They appointed Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood.
Hapgood reminded them that the long-discussed revised charge is scheduled to take effect April 1. “Give me some direction,” she asked select board members.
The second issue was improved security cameras at the transfer station to make it easy to identify people who enter when the facility is closed. Hapgood presented a figure of $3,194.99, of which $1,750 is on hand as a carry-forward from last year.
She recommended taking the remaining $1,444.99 from the transfer station budget. Select board members unanimously approved the total.
The third issue was the planning board’s request to put proposed amendments to Chapters 2 and 11 of the Land Use Ordinance on the warrant for the June 14 town business meeting.
After discussion of the relationship between the two elected boards, select board members voted unanimously to present the amendments to voters.
The planning board is working on a new Chapter 8, which would set rules for future solar developments. Hapgood said that document is not yet in final form.
Information on the proposed changes is on the town website, china.govoffice.com, the manager said. In reply to resident Scott Pierz’s question about whether the planning board held a public hearing during development of the amendments, she reminded the audience that discussions were in the spring of 2021 and said she would look for a record of a hearing.
Budget discussion took more than an hour. Board members accepted Hapgood’s recommendations, which are based on requests from heads of town departments and the current year’s budget adjusted for expected changes, on most items.
The only split vote was on the proposal to reduce the amount for 2022-23 road paving from Hapgood’s recommended $600,000 to Road Foreman Shawn Reed’s requested $560,000.
Everyone who spoke expects paving to be more expensive this summer than last; the question is how much more. Hapgood recommended the higher appropriation because of the uncertainty. If prices are lower than she anticipates, roads skipped in past years could get resurfaced, she said.
Board members Wayne Chadwick and Blane Casey made and seconded the motion for $560,000, and were supported by Janet Preston. Chairman Ronald Breton and member Jeanne Marquis were opposed.
After the Feb. 21 special budget meeting, the next regular China select board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28.
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