Northborough – The Northborough Board of Selectmen welcomed three guests to its meeting March 14 – State Senators James Eldridge, D-Acton, and Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester, as well as State Rep. Harold Naughton, DBy Clinton – to discuss a number of legislative priorities.
“It's all about communication, it's about letting the folks know what's important to us, and to make sure we stay on the same page,” Town Administrator John Coderre said of the meeting between the legislators and town officials.
Northborough's first priority, the selectmen noted, is a greater rate of control over health insurance and plan design. Chandler assured the board that the legislators were working diligently on health care. Naughton pointed out that Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo had named municipal health care as one of the House's top priorities this year.
The selectmen also asked the legislators for the restoration of “circuit breaker” funding, which are state monies that help fund special education costs. They added that families are drawn to towns like Northborough for their school system, and as such, they do not want to get funding cut for such programs. In fiscal year 2011, the town lost over $500,000 in such funding.
Coderre talked with the group about the process of submitting bids for projects and the bureaucratic protocol that towns have to go through. While he believes that the protocol is necessary for large projects, he said he is in favor of adjusting labor rates and procurement laws for smaller projects.
“Some administrative leniency can help local businesses and help us get lower prices,” he said. “You'se got to give us some relief [on bidding out projects].”
In other business, the Department of Public Works ( DPW) requested deficit spending, not to exceed $61,000, from free cash or the water enterprise fund. The funding, which was approved by the board and still needs the approval of Town Meeting and the Department of Revenue, is for the repair of 10 incidents of leaking water lines.
While the funding will come from an existing balance, the board was not pleased with the situation, as they noted that the DPW is supposed to check pipes and request funding every two years instead of every four.
“It's a better situation to address the leaks and deal with the cost savings reaped from fixing those, but [the DPW] probably could have done a better job planning,” Coderre said.
In other news, Selectman Fran Bakstran informed residents that leaves can be dropped off at the DPW garage during the work week and that burn permits can be purchased for $5 on the day one wishes to burn. The first yard waste collection will be April 22 and 23.
Selectman Jeff Amberson reminded the town's voters of their ability to make an impact in their own backyards by attending the Annual Town Meeting, which starts Monday, April 25, at Algonquin Regional High School.
“It's your annual chance to be heard and get a real say in what goes on in your community,” he said.