It took some time to get going, but once it started it went by fast.
Easton residents overwhelmingly approved all 10 Special Town Meeting warrant articles Monday night at Oliver Ames High School.
The meeting, originally scheduled for 7 p.m., did not begin until 7:34 as town officials struggled to secure a quorum of 100 voters. Once there was a quorum, though, the meeting lasted only 20 minutes and was over before 8 p.m.
Voters approved a slew of fund transfers, equipment and technological upgrades for emergency personnel and an additional $750,000 to repair Easton Middle School's roof.
The article to generate the most discussion throughout the night was Article 4, which approved the purchase of certain streetlights currently owned by National Grid. The purchase of the lights will cost the Town an estimated $23,890 plus an estimated maintenance cost of $30,000 per year in the form of a private contractor, DPW Director David Field said. According to Field, owning the lights will result in significant savings by eliminating facilities charges and allowing the Town to undertake future energy efficient lighting upgrades.
Resident Bob Hicks questioned how much it would cost to replace the bulbs and Field responded that the cost of replacement would be reflected in $30,000 per year maintenance costs, which he called a "conservative estimate."
Field explained to resident Gil Heino that "quarterly sweeps" would be conducted for the maintenance of the lights and "trouble calls" will be responded to on a weekly basis.
Field told Selectmen earlier this month that he believed the Town would save approximately $75,000 a year by owning it's own lights.
While the light purchase generated the most discussion, the approval of an additional $750,000 for the middle school roof, article 8, did not generate any discussion. The money will be in addition to $1.5 million approved by the town at the May town meeting. After further testing of the 83,285 square foot roof, however, officials determined that more money will be needed. Town funds will be supplemented with state grants in paying for the roof.
Article 9 added an additional five slots to the 2012 valor act - a senior tax work off program. The five additional slots will be dedicated to Easton veterans who will receive credit towards their property tax bill. It was approved unanimously.
Voters also unanimously approved adding $250,000 to build up reserves in the town's stabilization fund, add $25,000 to an unemployment trust fund and add $6,000 for retirement contributions. Adjustments were also made in the FY2013 budget to supplement funding in various town departments and adjustments were made to the junk and precious metal bylaw to ease restrictions on consignment, antique and second hand clothing shops.
Voters also appropriated $62,900 for an upgraded public safety dispatch system that will serve both fire and police forces. Additionally, $13,593 was approved for thermal imaging camera and traffic emitters for the fire department.
To view the 10 warrant articles that passed, view the attached .pdf.