Marijuana, term limits, debt exclusion among items on docket for Hatfield TM

By JACK SUNTRUP

@JackSuntrup

Published: 04-28-2017 11:01 PM

HATFIELD — What to do about recreational marijuana, Select Board term limits, a debt exclusion question and the town’s $12 million budget blueprint will all be on the agenda for the upcoming annual Town Meeting.

Hatfield’s Town Meeting is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 9, in the Smith Academy gymnasium. The Select Board this week discussed with the Finance Committee a final draft of the budget.

The budget outlines steady services throughout town with a few noticeable bumps officials say are designed to bolster services.

The town administrator’s expense budget will likely increase to $39,000, from $9,000. The boost will allow the town to hire temps when necessary and hire an agency to assess possible efficiencies in town government, said Town Administrator Marlene Michonski.

The Town Clerk’s office will see a $9,450 increase over last year, allowing the office to open on Wednesdays.

And the Fire Department will see a $5,400 increase over last year, for increased duties for the deputy chief and the possibility of hiring a part-time worker for data entry and other tasks.

The schools will receive an increase of almost $130,000 over last year, from $4.24 million to $4.37 million.

The town faces more than 30 articles on the agenda, many of them housekeeping. They include:

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A senior tax abatement that would allow seniors in town to volunteer services as needed and in exchange for reduce property taxes.

A plan to buy 94 acres at Horse Mountain for trails and public use. The town would borrow $91,164 — to be reimbursed by the state — and use $69,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to purchase the land.

A vote for a temporary moratorium on recreational marijuana facilities in the town.

A plan to limit Select Board members to no more than six years on the board. The board would also be increased from three to five members.

A citizen-submitted, nonbinding resolution expressing support for more transparency and to limit the influence of money in government.

If approved, the town would hold a special election for a Proposition 2½ override to raise $740,000 for construction of a water transmission line from Chestnut Street to Gore Avenue.

In contrast with last year’s budget, the town is expecting almost $488,000 in free cash, up from $96,000 last year. Voters will decide whether to approve pieces of that free cash for a feasibility study for the Council on Aging, Museum and HCTV, replace Town Hall’s front steps, railing and server, and pay for accounting software for the school and new paramedic equipment.

Jack Suntrup can be reached at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.

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