AUBURN, Mass. – Auburn Town Meeting members approved 20 articles at the special fall Town Meeting on Tuesday night, including an article that saves $610,000 for the future land purchase of a new middle school.
Town Meeting members voted to appropriate $610,000 from general fund revenues to the stabilization fund, which would be used down the road to purchase the 6.6 acres of land owned by Masonic Lodge for a new middle school on West Street. This purchase would be contingent on additional local and state approvals.
“We’re one step closer to a new middle school,” said Superintendent of Schools Maryellen Brunelle. “Every step forward is a step in the right direction. It’s good news.”
Town Manager Julie Jacobson, who has been negotiating with Masonic Lodge on the land purchase, said she recently agreed on a purchase price with the lodge. The next step is getting approval from the Board of Selectmen for the land purchase.
After that, Town Meeting members would have to approve taking the money out of stabilization for purchasing the land, which is contingent on the Massachusetts School Building Authority and the town of Auburn giving approval for a new middle school early next year. There are still many steps before the land purchase will be finalized.
One article that was postponed for vote would have “appropriated a sum of money from General Fund revenues to the Auburn School Department Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2013 to fund transportation costs for homeless students to their educational program.”
This article was postponed since the school department is awaiting further guidance from the Department of Revenue and the Department of Education. The school district spends about $12,000 each year transporting homeless students.
Most of the articles dealt with housekeeping items, such as those transferring money from one account to another or increasing line items from the Town Meeting in May. For example, Town Meeting members voted to increase the line item for Roadway Reconstruction from $475,000 to $500,000.
In addition, members voted to appropriate $17,000 from general fund revenues to purchase mapping and GPS equipment to be used within the Department of Public Works to map and locate sewer lines, sewer manholes, drain lines, drain manholes and drainage outfalls. Many of the articles were like this, appropriating money from general fund revenues.
Town officials were also happy to report that these appropriations were possible without relying on an additional penny of taxation.
“This is unprecedented at a time when most other communities are taxing at 2.5 percent,” said Board of Selectmen Chair Doreen Goodrich. “Auburn’s good fortune is the result of prudent financial strategy and decisions, recommended by town management, supported by the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and presented to Town Meeting members.”
Auburn is a Town Meeting Representative Government, in which the Town Meeting members vote. The town has 120 Town Meeting members elected from five precincts.
To see all of the articles that Town Meeting members voted on, download a copy of the warrant articles below.