As this year's May 21 Town Meeting draws closer, Town Officials on Elm Street are working to finalize a budget and provide a final draft of this year's Town Meeting warrant.
They are making tangible progress on closing the deficit, which was approximately $800,000 when Town Administrator David Colton first presented a preliminary budget in February. As of last week, the budget subcommittee had closed the deficit to $361,000, according to Finance Committee chair Carol Nestler.
"I thought that was pretty good news and we’re early on in the process," she said. "We should be able to get that down to where it needs to be."
The Finance Committee, which will meet again this week, also discussed the Fire Department's budget with Fire Chief Kevin Partridge.
The Chief said the restoration of two firefighter positions in the FY2013 budget, combined with the addition of a centralized dispatch station, putting firefighters back on the trucks, will allow the department to return to nine-man shifts - better than the eight-man shifts the department had been working with in the past year.
Still, ideally, Partridge would like to see 10-man shifts as a long-term goal. Additionally, the process to add firefighters will take time, as all new hires will attend a 12-week Fire Academy after joining the department.
"Technically we’ve got the bodies here on staff but won’t have the people on," Finance Committee member Keith Graveline explained. Graveline also worked on the Fire Study Committee last year.
The Finance Committee will continue to look at the budget and the Town Meeting warrant this week, a draft of which can be viewed here.
Town Meeting is not before Town Elections, however.
The April 24th event is right around the corner, and just this week, candidates for Selectmen - the lone contested race - took part in a debate, which I had the pleasure of moderating with Easton Journal Editor Donna Whitehead.
It was a healthy debate with plenty of discussion and disagreement. The most contentious issues included the Crossroads Veterans District and the Beacon Shovel Shop project. To view the debate,
Speaking of the Beacon Shovel Shop, final closing and groundbreaking is expected next week. Tuesday to discuss final documents, drafts of which can be viewed here.
As if enough hasn't been going on, spring sports kicked off at this week. We have a new look to our Tiger Tally page this spring. Check it out here. We'll also be featuring each OA sports team in the coming days.
Happy spring, Easton.