Town Meeting Voters Approve Budget, Articles
Along with budget, warrant articles included $2,700 appropriation for medical bills for fire lieutenant who suffered heart attack during a 2010 service call.
Lynnfield voters approved a $41,832,191 budget at Monday night's town meeting, while also backing warrant articles dealing with everything from routine financial matters to the proposed athletic fields complex to medical bills for a fireman who suffered a heart attack in the line of duty.
This year's spring town meeting concluded before 10 p.m. and while there was spirited debate about the budget from some citizens, the event had a different feel to last year when numerous teacher jobs were on the line due to a large budget deficit.
Newly-elected Town Moderator Arthur Bourque presided over his first town meeting and made his way through the budget line items with relative ease. At one point early on, a resident made a motion to eliminate $40,000 from a pay rate increase fund used for general government purposes. That measure failed and while there were questions and comments from the audience, there were relatively few efforts to change or eliminate specific budget line items.
Longtime town resident Pat Campbell, a former teacher, spoke on numerous occasions about the town's spending and clashed with Bourque more than once on town meeting procedures. "You can be sure that this is not a tight budget," she said, citing salary increases for various school positions as well as 15 new part and full-time positions allowed for under the FY13 budget.
Also passing with ease were the FY 13 capital budget items, amounting to $513,954 for various town department needs, from new firearms for the police department to sidewalk repair to a new summer boiler at the high school. (Note: The full town FY 13 capital budget can be viewed here).
Regarding the town's warrant articles, none were rejected, although article 14 was postponed indefinitely. That article focused on funding for highway maintenance, but was also contingent on still-unappropriated state funds.
In passing article 19, town voters updated the various fees that the board of health charges for various business permits - while also introducing a number of new ones with the upcoming Market Street at Lynnfield project on the horizon. Those fees can be viewed in the text of the town warrant, which appears here.
In article 20, voters amended the town's zoning bylaws in regard to flood plains, and article 21 was actually left over from the fall, 2011 town meeting that failed to convene due to lack of a quorum. Article 21 exempts commercial enterprises from $2,000 in person property taxes. This measure was hailed last fall as a business-friendly way for the town to save on money and paperwork.
Article 22 provided $2,701.99 to fire department Lieutenant Keith Gauvreau for medical expenses stemming from a heart attack he suffered during a service call in 2010. The original language of this article was amended, with a reference to future medical costs being stricken. Gauvreau is apparently able to petition the town over other medical expenses that come up in the future, but it would be during a different town meeting process.
Meanwhile, Gauvreau distributed a letter to many of the voters as they made their way into the building providing background information on the matter. According to the letter, the heart attack occurred during a brush fire off Kimball Lane and Gauvreau was technically dead for several minutes before colleagues revived him. Hospital staff apparently assigned the billing to his Blue Cross Blue Shield account, unaware it was job-related, and Gauvreau wrote that he now has about $5,000 in related bills. He also wrote in the letter that Blue Cross is reviewing 13 other associated bills and "are in the process of retracting their payments on them." In the letter, he also called the warrant article "my last ditch attempt to avoid a lawsuit against the town," writing that the town administrator's office had also been unhelpful in the matter, as well as the insurance company.
"I have served this town for twenty-nine years. I was hurt on the job; I turned down retirement and worked hard to get back to work in less than four months. I'm not asking for anything unreasonable. I just want what the law says I'm entitled to," wrote Gauvreau.
Article 23 involved the fairly routine matter of selling about 1,000 square feet of town-owned land along Route 95 and Green Street to two abutting homeowners for $2,500. A couple of inquiring residents were assured that the land is otherwise unusable, is a left over triangular parcel from the time that Route 128 was constructed, and that the two homeowners have been keeping the land parcel clean anyhow.
Finally, the meeting ended with the passage of article 24. As noted in this separate article earlier Tuesday morning on Lynnfield Patch, the article sets aside $100,000 in existing town funds to begin engineering and consulting work on the proposed fields complex.