Southwick Town Meeting to vote on budget

Voters will have the opportunity to weigh-in on the proposed total $19,604,353 town budget tonight, as well as several warrant articles, at the Town Meeting.
The night begins at 6:30 p.m. at the high school with a Special Town Meeting followed by the Annual Town Meeting at 7 p.m. The general budget comes to just over $11 million, with the school budget coming in at nearly $8.5 million.
The Special Town Meeting includes articles for fund transfers for salaries, an appropriation for the town’s share of storm related cleanup costs, and transfer of $82,000 in existing funds needed to cover the difference in the bids received to commence the Senior Center Addition Project.
The budget is outlined in Article 7 of the ATM, with Article 8 reauthorizing all revolving accounts to operate and without so would require funds to come out of taxation.
Town Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart said there isn’t much fat in the budget.
“It’s a pretty level funded budget,” Stinehart said. “There is the addition of a full-time Department of Public Works employee that will be split among three divisions, and a full-time firefighter/EMT, which will bring the full-time day coverage of the fire department up to seven days a week.”
The budget also includes a 1.5 percent raise for non-union employees, which will bring them in line with the union employees.
Articles 9 and 10 involve the Community Preservation Fund, with Article 9 establishing reserving 10 percent for Open Space, reserving 10 percent for Historic, and reserving 10 percent for Housing.  The remainder in General Unreserved Fund may be spent on any projects eligible for CPA funds. Article 10 sets aside 4 percent of the funds anticipated for FY 2013 for administrative and operating expenses.
Other articles include general housekeeping items, appropriation and transfer of the sum of $102,793 to preserve town historical documents, and appropriation from the FY 2013 Community Preservation General Unreserved Fund $43,420.32 for the Cultural Council to purchase and install in the Southwick Town Hall Auditorium a Sound System and Remote Control Light Installation to enhance the sound system in the newly renovated auditorium.
Voters will also be faced with a bylaw proposal creating a home occupation by right. The Southwick Planning Board proposed the bylaw, which outlines general provisions as well as prohibited uses.
Planning Board Chairman Douglas Moglin said the bylaw “allows home occupations by right for things that you can’t tell are going on and do not affect the neighborhood.”
There are also several “green” articles, including Article 22, to see if the town will vote to amend Chapter 185 Zoning of the Code of the Town of Southwick, by adding a new Zoning District titled: Environmentally Friendly Auxiliary Power Small Energy Systems District. This article will amend the Code of the Town Of Southwick, zoning, to include and further define permitted accessory uses in Section 185-4.
Article 23 is also a green proposal dealing with a large-scale ground-mounted solar installation district.
There is also an article pertaining to pawnbrokers and precious metals dealers. One article asks voters to consider slowing the town pursuit of a Green Community designation, and other articles include the acceptance of several streets.

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