Alan Minard of the Marion Finance Committee presented a draft of the 2014 budget at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday evening. The proposed budget has a projected 2.46 percent increase over the existing budget.
“This is pretty much a balanced budget, which is fairly flat from last year,” Minard said. The Finance Committee will continue to work with the budget and present a final proposal within the coming weeks.
A review of the proposed budget shows the addition of a town facilities position, which would fund an experienced individual who could keep ahead of maintenance issues with town-owned buildings. The Board, along with Town Administrator Paul Dawson, agreed that Marion has to anticipate capital needs before they arise.
The 2013 fiscal year appropriation is $18,797,635. The 2014 fiscal year proposed appropriation is $19,260,256.
Pamela Marean, a grant writer hired by the town in 2012, reported on the research and work she has completed during her tenure.
Marean has addressed the majority of the boards in town, along with the library and other town departments, in a search to match needs with grants. Marean said that there are local, state and federal grants that are available which Marion could seek for funding.
A priority is a Geographical Information System digital mapping system, which would benefit multiple town departments, including the emergency medical technicians, police and housing departments, assessors’ office and the historical landmarking in town.
“The purpose of my report is to show how I’ve spent my time,” Marean said. A highlight of her success is a $1 million grant awarded by MassWorks.
Selectman John Henry congratulated Marean on her success, and noted that she grew up in Marion.
“Let’s give credit where credit is due,” Henry said. “Former Selectman Roger Blanchette pushed us to hire a grant writer, and here we are.”
In other business, the Board approved a contract with Tata & Howard for engineering services for the preparation of specifications, bidding, and contract award services for the replacement of a roof at the Perry Hill Station in the amount of $12,500. Dawson noted that the funding was approved last year.
The Board approved a $45,014.14 contract to Integration Partners of Lexington for a new phone system at the Town House. The new system will tie into the new system installed at the police station.
“When we lost power, it really affected our ability to operate, and that’s the time when people are really looking to us,” Dawson said. “This is the very product we’ve been looking for. With a few keystrokes during an outage, we’ll have the components necessary to run a seamless system.” He noted that the bid will save the town at least $4,500 from the one previously considered.
Town resident Carol Sanz spoke to the Board and expressed her disappointment at the newly-installed lighting system outside the Marion Music Hall.
“It’s too modern and takes away from the facade,” Sanz said. Selectman Henry said that outdoor lighting codes have changed, including issues with light pollution. Dawson responded that the lighting was handled by the Music Hall Committee, which came up with the design and put it out to bid. The project cost approximately $77,000.
“I just feel that it could have been done much simpler for much less,” Sanz said.
The Board held off approving the warrant for Town Meeting and is awaiting a final approval of the article wording from Town Counsel Jon Witten.
Other items approved included a one-day all alcohol license for the Marion Social Club for a chicken barbecue from 12:00 to 4:00 pm on April 21; Susan Connor was approved as the Inspector of Animals for the town.
By Joan Hartnett-Barry