By John Anderson
With only a few speed bumps to slow things down, Auburn’s Special Town Meeting moved quickly on Tuesday evening. The fall meeting is the time to amend the town budget
passed in May since the State budget is now confirmed and local aid is set. It is also the time when our town leaders report on Auburn’s fiscal health as well as accomplishments since the spring.
97 elected town meeting members turned out, and a quorum of 80 was reached by 7:10PM. The annual town meeting in May drew 98 members, so the fall attendance was very good. There are 120 elected members, 20 from each of Auburn’s 5 voting precincts. Town Clerk Ellen Gaboury has been publishing attendance records since 2012, and the “list of shame” might be having a positive effect. The days of members and town employees dialing those not present are hopefully over.
Of the 25 warrant articles, 24 passed while number 25, authorizing the Town Manager to lease out Camp Gleason, was postponed indefinitely. After the meeting, Town Manager Julie Jacobson said a thorough record search completed on Monday revealed a single document that requires further review. Under the circumstances, it was prudent to present this article at the next town meeting.
Article 6 asked for $108,750 to purchase four iPad carts in anticipation of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) field test next spring. This drew significant questions, and most focused on the PARCC test itself and not the ongoing technology needs of the Auburn School District which would see a more permanent benefit of this purchase. The article passed 80-10.
Articles 9 and 10 by the Fire Chief Steve Coleman generated a lot of questions by member Michael T. Hammond. All were very well answered by the Chief regarding two department vehicles in dire need of replacement, and members approved both expenditures.
The only other article to get extensive questioning was number 22, a $35,000 request for 2 vehicles to be used by town inspectors and assessors. Robert Platukis asked why the purchase could not be for hybrid cars. Director Adam Burney explained that both purchases would be “green vehicles”. Moderator Charlie Baker ended the questioning after generously allowing Mr. Platukis to exceed the two-question limit.
All in all, this was a good town meeting that accomplished a lot, ended in about three hours, and did not conflict with a World Series game. A complete list of the warrant can be found here
The Auburn Mass Daily will continue coverage tomorrow with a review of the financial status and accomplishments of your town government.