CHESTER – Town Meeting is Saturday, May 18, and any residents who want a say in the future of their town are encouraged to attend, listen to arguments for and against warrant articles, and let their voice be heard. Results of the secret ballot vote that took place on Tuesday, May 14, after the Tri-Town Times went to press, will be announced at Saturday’s Town Meeting as well. This includes the election of officers and several zoning amendments.
Chester’s traditional New England Town Meeting starts at the multipurpose room at 9 a.m. Saturday. How long it will last is up to how much voters want to discuss each item, but there are a few big ticket items that will likely draw many voices. With article 5, the first o be discussed Saturday, voters will decide whether they want to purchase the Chester College of New England property. Seventy acres are up for sale in the heart of Chester and directed by public outcry, the selectmen have put together the article to purchase the property with a $1.8 million bond.
A presentation on the property is set to take place during Town Meeting. Article 6 will ask voters to consider funding the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) with an eye to road construction. This article asks to raise $350,000, with $150,000 of that sum to come from the unreserved fund balance. The remaining $200,000 would be raised through taxation.
Article 7 will ask for $200,000 for asphalt for roadwork. Article 8 will ask the town to approve an assistant library director position, as requested by the Chester Public Library Trustee.
Article 9 will ask for $57,000 for improvements to the transfer station roof. Article 10 is to approve a budget of $3,846,855. Articles 11, 12 and 13 are highway department articles and will ask respectively for a dump truck, loader and money to build two additional buildings at the salt shed. Town leaders have said the articles begin leading the way to creating more of a public works department in Chester.
Article 14 asks for $85,000 for the Winter Road Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund.
Article 15 will ask for $50,000 to replace the roof on the multipurpose room.
Article 16 will ask to appropriate $45,500 to purchase a skid steer tractor for the transfer station.
Article 17 will ask for $40,250 for a new police cruiser, with $20,250 to come from a capital reserve fund.
Article 18 will seek $10,000 for the Building Improvement and Capital Reserve Maintenance Fund.
Article 19 will seek $15,000 for the town’s next revaluation.
Article 20 will seek to set up a fund to collect money from the sale of cemetery lots and other revenue sources, to pay for historic cemetery upkeep.
Article 21 will seek $10,000 to begin work on a memorial in the front of Stevens Memorial Hall to commemorate important Chester citizens.
Article 22 will seek $5,000 to prepare for the town’s 300th anniversary in 2022.
Article 23 will ask for funding for Public Access Community Television.
Articles 24 through 26 will seek to close capital reserve funds no longer required by the town.
Article 27 is to hear reports.
Article 28 will be to consider any other business that might come before the meeting.
Selectman Mike Weider alerted the board at its May 9 meeting that the 10 percent rule doesn’t come into play this year. Earlier discussions between the selectmen and budget committee had the rule, which states that voters can’t appropriate more than 10 percent above what the budget committee has recommended in warrant article spending, coming into effect for about $40,000, meaning that $40,000 of warrant article spending could not be approved. Weider said at last week’s meeting, however, that the rule doesn’t come into effect as there is an $84,205 buffer. Weider also noted the budget committee’s plans to ask for written secret ballots at the meeting for articles, 5, 7, 8 and 16.