ROWE – Annual town meeting voters approved $3.3 million in spending for the coming fiscal year. They also approved a town licensing restriction for delinquent taxpayers and supported a year-long wind turbine moratorium Monday night at the fire station.
The only measure voters defeated was an article to change the town treasurer’s position from an elected office to an appointed one. Those who voted against the measure argued that changing the treasurer’s position to an appointment would upset the checks and balances of having elected officials, by essentially giving the selectmen the power to hire and fire the treasurer. Immediately after the vote, the selectmen tabled a similar article that would have changed the tax collector’s position from an elected to an appointed office.
Although voters supported a one-year wind turbine moratorium, their vote cannot change the town’s zoning bylaw, because a public hearing was not held before the town meeting vote.
The citizens’ petition article called for a moratorium on all large-scale, electricity-generating wind turbines until July 1, 2014, to give the town time to develop wind turbine siting bylaws “in a manner consistent with sound land-use planning goals and objectives.” The moratorium was to prohibit the building of systems that can generate more than 35 kilowatts of power, until the moratorium expires.
The vote for the moratorium showed the feelings of townspeople, and, as Town Moderator Robert Clancy said: “That is Step One in the process.”
The tax rate for Fiscal Year 2014 will actually drop by 38 cents, to $5.92 per $1,000 valuation, because this year the town used a debt exclusion to pay off a $320,000 capital outlay expenditure for energy improvements to town buildings.
The budget for FY14, in this town of 400 people, is:
∎ General government spending, $403,733
∎ Public works and facilities, $548,298
∎ Public safety, $102,222
∎ Public health and sanitation, $128,257
They approved $1.4 million in spending for education. That includes $984,745 for the town’s kindergarten through Grade 6 students and $434,399 for 31 students at the Mohawk and Franklin County Technical high schools.
Spending for the town library is $65,693 and costs for management of Pelham Lake Park are $104,171. The town used $82,669 of its “free cash” revenues to reduce the 2014 tax rate.
Voters adopted a state law called the “Licensing Restriction Bylaw,” which gives the town the right to deny, revoke or suspend town-issued licenses or permits to businesses or residents who are at least a year behind in paying taxes, and who have made no arrangements for payment. The rule says the tax collector would give each town board and department a list of those who have neglected or refused to pay taxes. The permits could again be issued when the person or business has worked out a payment agreement.
Voters agreed to spend $220,000 from its capital stabilization fund on a new Mack dump truck and sander for the Department of Public Works.
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