The Rochester Board of Selectmen reviewed and approved all five articles on the warrant for the Special Town Meeting. The approval came during the board’s regular meeting on Monday, October 15 at Rochester Town Hall.
The first article on the warrant also boasts the biggest price tag, and encompasses a list of renovations and purchases the town needs to make for their buildings and vehicles. The total price tag for all of the items combined in the article is $897,000.
“There are a number of capital projects and equipment that need to be addressed now,” said Town Administrator Richard La Camera.
$250,000 of the $897,000 figure will go to repairing the exterior of the Town Hall, replacing windows, shingles and siding. Nothing on the interior of the building will be fixed.
“What we’re trying to do here is protect our investment,” said LaCamera. “We could potentially lose this building.”
The Plumb Library and Police Station would also see repairs if the article is carried at the meeting. The library would become more handicapped accessible with a new lift for wheelchairs, and the roof on the Police Station would be replaced with better shingles.
Additionally, the Council on Aging would receive a new roof and the Fire Department would get bathroom upgrades. As it stands now, the bathrooms in the station are approximately 4′x4′. Both roof replacements would cost $40,000 and the repairs to the Library and the Fire Station would both cost $25,000.
A new fuel system, two highway trucks, a highway mower, fire chief vehicle and new Fire Department radios are also listed under the first article. The town proposes to refurbish two existing fire trucks instead of buying new ones.
To pay for these investments, the town will switch out old debt that is about to expire with this new debt, therefore it will not increase the town’s operating budget nor will it create an override. However, the debt will not be swapped for three years, so the town will use some of the $727,000 worth of free cash to begin making payments.
LaCamera insisted that this is the best time to make these investments due to the low interest rates, which are currently estimated to be 3.2-3.5%.
“I think this is a good approach in the short term,” said LaCamera. “These interest rates are almost unheard of.”
The remaining articles on the warrant will touch upon Right to Farm Bylaws, Photovoltaic Installation, Right to Farm Declaration and Dimension Regulations for residences and farms.
The fifth and final article on the warrant is for a proposed little league ballpark at the recreational grounds on Dexter Lane. The town applied for a grant which would use money to build the park. Any additional money needed will be funded by Rochester LIttle League and will not be funded by the town.
In other news, the Board voted to appoint Nathan Valenti as a Reserve Police Officer for the Rochester Police Department. Valenti resides in Rochester, is a 2005 graduate of Old Rochester Regional High School. He studied English at UMass-Dartmouth and has passed both his written and physical exams for the department.
The town also voted to sign another three-year contract for Fire Chief Scott Weigel, who is finishing his first three-year term in that role for the town.
The next scheduled regular meeting for the Rochester Board of Selectmen is Monday, November 5 at 7:00 pm in Rochester Town Hall.
By Katy Fitzpatrick