Billerica Town Meeting features preservation funds, bylaw changes
, 2023-04-29 11:35:05,
BILLERICA — Town Meeting representatives will vote on 36 articles including the budget, Community Preservation funds and recording public meetings at the spring Town Meeting on Tuesday in the Town Hall Auditorium.
The preliminary warrant had 42 articles, but six were withdrawn from the final warrant.
As is the case in every Town Meeting in the spring, the representatives will vote on the fiscal 2024 budget for the town and its school district in Article 17. This year’s budget to be voted on, including town departments, schools and the water and sewer enterprise funds, totals $195,516,441. The largest increase from any department in the budget came from Billerica Public Schools, which went up from $73,447,001 to $76,326,794, with much of that increase coming from professional salaries, supplies and expenses.
Article 25 concerns the appropriation of nearly $2 million in Community Preservation Act funds for seven projects in town. These include $50,000 for the creation of a secure facility to store town artifacts, documents and archives; $80,000 to improve the existing basketball courts at the Peggy Hannon-Rizza Recreation Complex; $1 million for renovations in the Masonic building to create new community spaces; $385,000 for the restoration of the First Congregational Church in Billerica’s Center Historic District; $5,000 to upgrade the disc golf course at Veterans’ Memorial Park; $40,000 to repair and restore the front façade of the Masonic building; and $382,613 to create a new affordable housing unit at the Billerica Housing Authority.
Article 34 is a decision on whether to dispose of nine town-owned parcels on Wildcrest Avenue for the purpose of building affordable housing units.
Article 36 is a vote on whether to amend the town’s general bylaws as they relate to the submission of the annual budget from the School Committee. The bylaw change would compel the School Committee to file a full and comprehensive operating budget, which they already do, as well as a detailed capital budget each year.
The committee voted unanimously April 25 to oppose this article, with members claiming it would hinder the committee during budget season, especially next year.
“I think this is not a good idea under the best of circumstances where we had a longtime superintendent, a mostly longtime assistant superintendent and business manager,” said School Committee member Mark Efstratiou. “Especially next year where we will have an interim…
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