Somerville voters will decide whether to transfer $252,000 from the town’s general fund to several reserve accounts and whether to approve two new ordinances at a special town meeting scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 7.
See “Somerville Planning Board Moves Proposed Ordinances Ahead” for more information about the proposed subdivision and site plan review ordinances.
The warrant for town meeting asks to transfer, all from the town’s general fund, $200,000 to the capital road construction reserve account, $50,000 to the revaluation reserve account, and $2,000 for the comprehensive plan update reserve account.
According to First Selectman Susan Greer, Somerville’s general fund has a current balance of just over $711,000.
The town’s auditor told the selectmen the town is keeping too large of a fund balance, and recommended some of the funds be moved into reserve accounts, Greer said.
The $200,000 proposed for the road account would allow the selectmen to go out to bid on road reconstruction, Greer said. Some of the town’s gravel roads need some major work done on them, she said.
Greer was unsure offhand which roads were planned to be reconstructed, but said Crummett Mountain Road was one to which temporary fixes have been made over and over again, which adds up in cost over time.
“The idea is to have the money to be able to do a permanent fix on it that’s going to stop some of that,” Greer said.
The road reserve account has about $193,000 in it currently, but those funds are planned to be used next year to finish paving Valley Road (about 7/10 of a mile), and the first half-mile of Sand Hill Road, Greer said.
The two roads were selected for paving because they are the most heavily traveled, Greer said.
The estimate for the paving is around $140,000 to $150,000, but the projects have not gone out to bid yet and the remaining reserve funds would provide a cushion, Greer said. The roads will also require prep work before the paving is done, she said.
The $50,000 for the revaluation reserve account would help cover most of the cost of a town-wide revaluation for Somerville, Greer said.
“There has never been [a revaluation in Somerville]. We’ve never had one,” Greer said. “So, over the years, the way the valuations were done, the values became skewed.”
According to Greer, some properties in town have taxes based on values set in the 1940s and 1950s, and over the years properties have been revalued as they were sold.
Through the tax mapping process and through the work of Assessors’ Agent Jim Murphy, it has been found about 10 percent of Somerville’s acreage is not being taxed at all because it was not recorded, Greer said.
“So, we need to fix that, and unless you do a revaluation of everybody, it’s very difficult to fix that,” Greer said.
Murphy expects the revaluation would take between two to three years to complete, according to Greer.
Murphy “is working through getting all the land acreages brought up to date and everything up to date in the computer, so that when, as soon as he finishes that – and that should be pretty soon – then he can actually start visiting properties and doing the outside work,” Greer said.
The $2,000 request for the comprehensive plan update account would help pay for upcoming expenses such as maps and printing, Greer said. The amount would supplement the account’s current balance of about $860, she said.
The comprehensive plan committee has been meeting for about the last year and half, and will soon be putting the pieces of the plan together, Greer said.
One article on the warrant is an updated version of an article which failed to pass at town meeting last June due to incorrect dates.
The article would allow the selectmen to receive and expend funds received from grants or other sources from July 2014 to June 2015, provided the sources require less than $10,000 in other expenditures, which would be taken from surplus.
The article that failed to pass at town meeting would have authorized the same, but from January 2013 to July 2014.
The special town meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 7 at 10 a.m. in the former Somerville School gymnasium, 665 Patricktown Rd.