8:26-9:45 p.m. The sounds of axes grinding

All right, I’ve showered and look a bit more human now. Let’s get back to Town Meeting. This is the second of several parts, and you can find Part 1 right here or skip to the highlights here.

8:26 p.m. We start blasting through articles again, starting with Article 7, changing “driveway opening permit” to “road opening permit.” There’s a plea by a resident to ensure that contractors actually restore roads to their original conditions instead of putting in crappy patches that inevitably deteriorate in our harsh New England conditions. Amen, but really tangental.

8:30 p.m. Article 8, we’re going to transfer $192 to the animal control officer’s salary. Article 9, a $315 transfer plus a $300 transfer to the same department’s accounts, to bring everything in line with other departments.

8:32 p.m. And we’re cruising past Article 10! Passing over Articles 11 and 12.

8:33 p.m. Little speedbumps.  We’re being asked to purchase financial software/hardware (does that mean both or is it an either or?). Some are questioning why a capital expense is in the fall budget, normally reserved for nitpicky housekeeping details.

8:35 p.m. Article 14, purchase of a $15,000 server for the IT Department, and this is drawing the same questions. Apparently we’re losing the services of a consultant, and it’s better to buy this now than wait for May, and yadda yadda yadda.

8:37 p.m. Article 15. DPW wants to purchase a material spreader after taking apart an old truck and discovering its spreader is no good. The truck has been repaired, but unless we buy it a new spreader, we may be in trouble, sand and salt-wise, this winter.

Finance Committee is opposed — they felt there were other options available at this time.

“We need this truck, with a sander on it, to sand the roads for this winter,” says Selectman Craig Dauphinais, running down the number of trucks Grafton has and the likelihood of others breaking over the course of the winter. “If we get down to six, we may not be able to sand in a timely fashion.”

It may also mean the town might have to contract out for sanding expenses, which it hasn’t done for over 20 years and would ultimately be more expensive, it’s noted.

The DPW is accused of making an “end run” around the normal capital budget process and it’s suggested that, had they not placed the item on the warrant, they could have just taken the money from the emergency fund. If it doesn’t pass now, however, the emergency fund can’t be touched because the voters will have their say.

8:54 p.m. We’re getting a new spreader!

8:55 p.m. Article 16, consolidation of administrative functions between the school department and town. But it’s not, really, because there’s no plan in place and both the School Committee and Town Meeting would have to approve of any changes, so I guess we’re just endorsing the idea that we’d like this to happen? Supt. Joseph Connors is against this and lobbies that we not approve it until an actual plan is in place.

I could go into this in more detail but, in any case, after a bit of back-and-forth, it passes.

9:04 p.m. Article 17, Discovery Drive is now accepted and the New England Regional Biosafety Lab now has a town-sanctioned address.

9:05 p.m. We’re getting a Commission on Disability! Wow, we didn’t have one already?

9:09 p.m. Non-Criminal Disposition Bylaw. Selectman Mary Ann Cotton notes this has come up before Town Meeting before and failed to pass. Essentially, this would allow town officials such as the Building Inspector or Health Agent able to ticket people for violating a town bylaw. This would allow matters to be prosecuted in civil court rather than the bringing everything to Superior Court to get an injuction, which is a more costly process.

Which sounds great in theory, but there’s a mutter through the audience that sounds an awful lot like there are axes in need of grinding.

9:16 p.m. The Finance Committee, by the way, is opposed to this, beliving police officers should be the only ones doing law enforcement and not untrained town officials. They also believe an appeals process at the town level should be in place.

And here’s where I start muttering, because a few of the towns they name that have similar bylaws are towns I’ve lived in, covered or edited. Are we basing this bylaw on any of them, specifically? Are we using the same wording? Because it does seem kind of vague to me.

9:18 p.m. “In Grafton, dealing with the building inspector is a bit difficult.” Zing!

9:20 p.m. Monday Night Football update from my neighbor’s Blackberry: Patriots 6, Denver 0

9:25 p.m. Motion to pass over article

9:40 p.m. 13-0, Patriots.

9:45 p.m. Pass over vote passes, 152-103


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