Hadley voters approve $14.2 million budget
HADLEY — One hundred and sixty voters turned out Thursday night for Annual Town Meeting, where they unanimously approved a fiscal 2014 budget of $14,823,327 as recommended by the Finance Committee.
Finance Committee Chairman Frank Aquadro said this represents a 2.5 percent increase over last year’s budget of $14,286.495.
Residents also unanimously voted to authorize the town to borrow $150,000 for technology equipment and software for Hadley Elementary School.
“We understand that this is a significant sum of money, but the amount matches the increased need that we have,” School Committee Chairwoman Molly Keegan said. “I also want to make it clear that this is a borrowing article, and it will not have any impact on your tax bill.”
Schools Superintendent Donna Moyer told those gathered that the $150,000 would help rectify current technology inequities between Hopkins Academy and the elementary school.
“Eighty-eight percent of the classrooms at Hopkins Academy have interactive white boards (large displays that connect to computers) while at the elementary school they have only 33 percent,” Moyer said. “These are important instructional tools that engage students and allow them to be challenged.”
To replace aging and ineffective breathing masks for firefighters, voters unanimously approved $69,000 for the purchase of new breathing apparatus.
Deputy Fire Chief George Moriarty explained that the current outdated masks are incapable of working seamlessly with the department’s air packs.
“We have three to four different versions of masks,” Moriarty said. “If a mask doesn’t get set with the proper pack, it is basically useless. This money will allow us to purchase five or six new mask that will all work with our air packs.”
Voters also unanimously approved spending $6,400 for the purchase of a thermal imager for the Fire Department.
In order to allow the town to review recent legislation regulating the cultivation, distribution, possession and use of medical marijuana, voters also approved a moratorium on medical marijuana treatment centers in Hadley by a two-thirds majority vote. Town Administrator David Nixon said that the town just wanted enough time to review the regulation to make sure it comports well with the towns zoning bylaws.
Prior to the Town Meeting, residents elected Assistant Town Clerk Janice Kangas to the position of temporary town clerk. She will fill in for Town Clerk Jessica Spanknebel, who suffered a brain aneurism last week. Donations for the Spanknebel family were collected at Town Meeting.