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The annual town meeting drew some 125 voters on Monday night.

Cheshire Town Meeting Votes Down New Plow Truck

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Town Moderator Edmund St. John IV leads town meeting on Monday night. Voters approved all articles except one that would have authorized borrowing for a new town highway truck. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Town meeting approved the bulk of the warrant including the fiscal 2019 budget and the new marijuana bylaw but rejected the purchase of a new plow truck.
 
Most of the 17 town meeting articles flew by Monday night, however, the more than 100 voters pushed back on the proposal to buy a new highway truck that would require the town to borrow $230,000.
 
"I am asking that the town vote to approve this article certainly realizing it is a significant amount of money," Selectman and Moderator Edmund St. John IV said before the 65-66 vote was taken. "This is about necessity and efficiency we have two vehicles that are not road worthy right now."
 
The article would have needed a two-thirds majority vote to pass and would be contingent on a future debt exclusion ballot vote.
 
St. John added that the town recently paid off a plow truck so there would be virtually no change to the tax rate but surprisingly the bulk of the debate was whether to purchase a six-wheeled truck or 10-wheeled truck.
 
Town meeting voter Mickey Biagini said he thought the 10-wheeled truck the highway superintendent recommended just wasn't a good fit and would be difficult to turn on Route 116.
 
"We need a truck I agree with you, but we do not need a 10-wheeler," he said. "It takes longer to load, it's heavier so you have to go slower."
 
Town meeting member Fred Jayko bluntly agreed.
 
"Yeah basically the town of Cheshire does not need a 10-wheeler," he said. 
 
Superintendent Blair Crane said he felt the 10-wheeled truck would be a good change for the department.
 
"I think just because we have always done something doesn't mean it is the way we always have to do it," he said. "Technology changes, things change ... I don't see any reason why we couldn't turn around where we have always turned around."
 
Crane was also asked what the price difference was, and he responded that the 10-wheel truck is roughly $10,000 more
 
There was less discussion on article 6, which will allocate $40,000 from free cash to purchase a new highway department truck for the superintendent though one resident felt a new truck may be unnecessary.
 
Selectman Robert Ciskowski said currently the superintendent uses his own vehicle, which is a habit the town does not want to continue.
 
"Currently he is using his own vehicle to respond to emergency calls in the middle of the night, check the roads, unclog culverts and we are not really happy with that situation and the liability," he said. "We think a small pickup truck with a plow could be very handy."
 
Before opening up Article 2, which represents the fiscal 2019 budget of $6,090,255, Selectwoman Carol Francesconi went over some changes in the spending plan and noted that the town administrator salary has been bumped up from $21,433 to $40,000. 
 
She said current Town Administrator Mark Webber is to retire sometime next fiscal year and the town plans to hire another part-time administrator but instead of just working one day a week, the new administrator would hopefully work three days a week.
 
"We need to establish a salary that will attract qualified candidates and support more hours on the job," she said.
 
Voters only held two sections within the budget and no significant debate took place. One resident asked an operational question about the transfer station and although the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District budget was held, no one actually commented on it.
 
The other larger item on the warrant was Article 13 — the new marijuana establishment bylaw that passed with 96 yes votes and 23 no votes.
 
Before the article was voted on, resident Bill Craig made a successful amendment from the floor that increased the number of establishments allowed in town from one to six.
 
"My feeling is to limit this to one we are missing an opportunity that other towns will take," he said. "It is going to put buildings up which will give us tax revenue."
 
The rest of the articles sailed through with little resistance if any and the meeting was over in just over an hour.

Tags: town meeting 2018,   

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