Somerville residents agreed to expand the town’s development district and expend pandemic relief funds during their annual town meeting, held Sunday, June 26 in the Somerville Elementary School gymnasium.
As approved, Somerville’s municipal budget remains essentially level funded at $1,156,348. The mil rate is not expected to change, according to Chair of the Select Board Chris Johnson.
Residents approved article 4, to raise and appropriate $328,969 dollars for roads maintenance and repair, an increase of $84,981 or 34.8% increase from last year’s budget.
Part of the $84,981 increase in the road budget is related the town receiving $40,000 dollars in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Road Commissioner Willard Pierpont told the voters rising prices throughout the country are contributing to the increases in the budget. He said he plans to drive the town roads, evaluating conditions to determine priorities for repairs and maintenance.
“Pretty much every road in town needs work,” Pierpont said. “We’re really going to have to pay attention, trucking costs are way up, material costs, everything is up.”
Approving article 5, residents authorized applying $40,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the roads budget approved in article 4. During discussion, Johnson said the town will have to figure out a way to reduce cost on the road maintenance and repairs, since the ARPA funds will not be available next year.
The town approved article 3, agreeing to raise and appropriate $157,219 for town administration services, an increase of $7,986 or 5.3% from last year’s budget. Salary increases including $995 each for the tax collector and town clerk were contributing factors. Both salaries increased 4.9% to $20,951. Among other line items, the chair of select board’s stipends doubled from $250 to $500.
Tax collector’s salary increased to $20,951 an increase of $995 or 4.9%. The town clerk’s salary also increases to $20,951, an increase of $995 or 4.9%.
Communications increased to $3,809, an increase of $1,364 or 56%.
Residents approved Article 23 regarding amendments to the land use ordinance. Somerville Planning Board Jim Grenier told the voters the changes would keep the ordinance in accord with the comprehensive plan the town approved in June 2018. As approved, the development district now extends from the Washington town line, westerly 2.42 miles to the Jefferson town line along the center line of Route 17.
In referendum polling June 14, Somerville voters agreed to raise and appropriate $698,758 for Somerville’s share of RSU 12’s annual budget. The total represents an increase of $13,353, or 1.95%. Residents also reelected road commissioner Willard Pierpont to a one-year term and second select board member Don Chase to a three-year term.
The annual town meeting marked the final meeting for Third Select Board member Jarad Greeley. Greeley submitted his resignation June 1, announcing his intention to move closer to family.
At the conclusion of the annual town meeting Johnson thank Greeley for his service as the town applauded in appreciation.
Nomination papers are available at the town office for those interested in running for the open third select board seat. Nomination papers are due at the town office on Wednesday, July 13. A special town meeting will be held between 3 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 for a secret ballot election at the town office.
The winner of the election will finish out the remainder of Greeley’s term, which is set to expire in 2023.