Westborough Advisory Finance Committee approves snow funds


By Bonnie Adams Government Editor

Westborough – Lots of snow, such as the nearly 70 inches that have fallen so far this winter, requires lots of money to remove it. That's not news, of course, but nevertheless it still causes plenty of headaches all around.

In Westborough, snow deficit spending must be approved by both the Board of Selectmen and the Advisory Finance Committee (AFC). On Feb. 8, the selectmen approved a request by Department of Public Works (DPW) Director John Walden to allow the town to go into deficit spending for $125,000 for snow plowing and removal. $75,000 of that is for expenses and $50,000 is for wages.

At its Feb. 11 meeting, the AFC also approved the request. This procedure, member Jo Lown explained, is allowed by the State Legislature.

“It allows the towns to clear the roads and get rid of the snow without having to first call Town Meeting,” she said.

“The DPW has done a good job,” said member Bill Linnane, who is the AFC's liaison to the DPW. He added that the DPW had been using a leased truck to help further clear some of the streets after they had been plowed in an effort to widen them a bit more.

“That's saving money, even though we'se spending money,” he said of the decision to lease a vehicle.

The AFC also discussed a request from the DPW for $35,564 from the reserve fund for a new pick-up truck.

“The transmission [on a town-owned truck] went during a snow storm. It was due to be replaced anyways,” Linnane said. “It makes more sense to buy a new one now than replace the transmission on the old one and then buy a new one in a few months.”

The DPW, he added, has already found a new truck and had it placed on hold, pending a decision by the town.

Lown said that this was normally the type of action item that is approved at Town Meeting, although AFC Chair John Arnold noted that the AFC had the authority to approve funds to be released from the reserve fund.

Member Jim Tepper asked what would happen to the current vehicle and its plow.

“Normally it would be entered into the town's overall fleet to be used for another purpose,” Linnane said, “but in this case, the truck isn's good anymore.”

“I don's see any salvage value,” Tepper said. “I's like to see that first.”

The committee agreed to defer on the decision until its Feb. 17 meeting, when it was hoped either Town Manager Jim Malloy or Walden could provide a few more details on the requested purchase.

Another topic of discussion was a new HVAC system for the Public Library. Currently, $251,600 is proposed as part of the fiscal year 2012 Capital Plan to replace the Library's 30-year-old system.

“The number that's out there [$251,500] is not complete,” Linnane said. “They are going to have to get an engineer to assess this first. It's far from being a true assessment.”

That decision, Arnold said, needs to be made by the Library Board of Trustees.

“But we can be helpful and bring people together,” he added, “help steer them in the right direction.”

The commission will be meeting with the different departments over the next few weeks as the town prepares for Annual Town Meeting, which will be held on Saturday, May 14.

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