By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – An additional $400,000 is projected to be needed for the Westborough Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) fiscal year (FY) 2012, the plant's Administrative Engineer Jack Goodhall told the Board of Selectmen at their meeting April 5. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he added that the plant, which is in the midst of a $60 million upgrade, will likely need additional funds for work that will be required to comply with anticipated new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.
Shrewsbury pays the majority of the tab to run the plant, 60 percent, with Westborough accounting for 35 percent and Hopkinton, the remaining five percent. According to Westborough Town Manager Jim Malloy, the WWTP budget is $4,120,200 plus a debt service of $912,915 for a total of $5,033,115.
The phosphorous treatment building accounts for the biggest portion of the budget, Goodhall said. Increases in costs to run electricity and contract services also are factors, he noted.
New stricter EPA regulations are currently in review by the EPA. Goodhall noted those new regulations may go into effect this fall, but there is no official word on that matter yet, he said.
WWTP Board Member Mike Stanton expressed his dissatisfaction with the EPA to the selectmen.
“It's very frustrating because we'se done everything we'se been asked,” Stanton said. “The EPA – they are what they are. They make the rules because they can.”
Town Manager Jim Malloy noted that according to one EPA study, if the phosphorous level in the Assabet River was reduced to 0 percent, there would be no measurable improvement in the quality of water in that river.
“The EPA is trying to keep both sides – the towns and the environmental groups – happy,” he added.
The board agreed to send a letter to the town's state legislators expressing their concerns regarding the proposed regulations.
In other business, the town's Building Commissioner and Zoning Enforcement Officer Tin Htway appeared before the board to discuss matters related to the Building Department. Since being named to this position last fall, Htway has been working with other town officials to streamline the permitting process for businesses that hope to either expand current operations in Westborough or to new ones wishing to locate to the town.
Selectmen Chair Rod Jané believes streamlining the process would help improve the town's reputation as a place to do business.
“We need to be clear about what a complete application is. Maybe we should have a guaranteed number of days for the process,” he added.
“I see no reason why we can's,” Htway said.
Another significant change is that the town will soon start to charge for site plan reviews. Malloy told the board that he will have a recommendation for their consideration about this in the next few weeks.
Town Library Director Maureen Ambrosino appeared before the board to discuss the library's FY 2012 budget. The budget is projected to go up to $907,625 from the FY 2011 budget of $886,623 she said, due primarily to salary increases.
The library will be receiving $19,000 in state aid, she noted. In order to qualify for state aid, the library's budget must have municipal appropriations based on the average of the previous three years, plus an additional fee of two percent. Other requirements are that the library must be open at least 50 hours and it must spend at least 15 percent of its budget on library materials such as books, DVDs and databases.
Westborough did not meet the municipal appropriations requirement for FY 2012, Ambrosino said, so it needed to apply for a waiver from the state, which it received. (120 other towns in the commonwealth faced the same situation this year, she said.) In doing so, the library retained their certification, which allows its patrons to obtain materials from other libraries in the Central and Western Massachusetts Resource Sharing network.