Bourne Postpones Vote On DPW Funding
By: Diana T. Barth
Selectmen decided Tuesday that the request for a debt exclusion to fund the construction of a new Department of Public Works garage should not come before voters at Wednesday’s Town Meeting. They voted unanimously to ask that the DPW article be indefinitely postponed, effectively taking it out of consideration.
Selectman John A. Ford Jr., said that he had hoped to use the Town Meeting vote as a “testing of the waters,” letting selectmen know if the failure of the debt exclusion measure at the polls on November 6 was a true reflection of the town’s will or due more to the fact that the presidential election brought out voters who were unaware of the issue. Many Bourne voters who responded to the ballot questions on matters such as use of marijuana for medical purposes left the DPW question blank.
However, Mr. Ford said earlier this week, the more he had discussed the issue with the finance director and town administrator, the more complications he discovered.
If the town were to bring the DPW article before voters this week, he said, and that measure passed, state law requires that Bourne call a special election within 90 days. That would cost the town about $13,000.
Bourne Finance Director Linda A. Marzelli called the Department of Revenue to see what impact such an election would have on the setting of the town’s tax rate. The town’s DOR representative told her that the state’s revenue agency would not set the town’s tax rate until after that election. That would have meant that Bourne would not be able to send out its tax bills on time.
That would, in turn, delay the receipt of the income necessary to run the town.
Mr. Ford said that the town would, at some point, have to move the Department of Public Works out of the landfill.
And because of that, Mr. Ford said the issue would probably come before voters at the May Town Meeting.
Selectman Linda M. Zuern said she’s been asked by several voters if the town could find a way to reduce the cost of the facility.
The answer given by John E. Redman, a member of the DPW Building Committee, and others, including Mr. Ford, was that a public construction project, with its bid, prevailing wage, and other requirements, is far more expensive than the same project if it were to be done by a private company. The project had to build in some $800,000 for contingencies alone. DPW committee member Stanley J. Andrews said the group had worked countless hours to pare down the building’s expense.
Selectman noted all of the hard work that the DPW Building Committee had done on behalf of the project.
Mr. Redman acknowledged that the committee members were disappointed in the vote at the polls, and that they would not be presenting the project at this fall’s Town Meeting. He also said that, as a member of the Finance Committee, it would be his job to speak on behalf of the indefinite postponement of the Town Meeting article.
The members of the building committee, along with selectmen, acknowledged how much the DPW does for the town, and how much that department’s employees need a better and safer working environment.
Mr. Ford said the town might now have to pay for new “temporary,” rented trailers to replace those that have been in use for more than 11 years.
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