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Salem Community Patriot

May 14, 2010 - 3

by Robyn Hatch

Soule Calendar Raffle

Once again, the Calendar Raffle, sponsored by the Soule

PTA, was a big success. Each student that was able to sell 10 calendars had their name put into a box for a raffle. Incentive prizes included a limo ride with two friends, the principal, and a teacher to lunch at Fuddruckers; an iPod shuffle; and a Toys “R” Us gift card. Second grader Alexia Leone won the “limo lunch” prize, and she brought her fellow second-grade friends Faith Byerly, Olivia DeVito, and Jenna Toupin along. A Real Sense Limo was kind enough to donate a beautiful black limo for the ride to Fuddruckers. Much giggling and laughing was heard as the girls rode away for their lunchtime adventure. Melissa Norton, a second grader, won the iPod shuffle,

while Cindy Bauters, also a second grader, earned the Toys “R” Us gift card prize.

Selectmen Waive $200K of School District Fees

by Jay Hobson

The Board of Selectmen waived over $200,000 in school district construction fees, which acting Town Manager Dr. Henry LaBranche, a former Salem school superintendent, said was historical practice. Selectman Elizabeth Roth asked for a dollar figure of the proposed fees at the last Board of Selectmen’s meeting, and the Board voted to table the issue until the dollar amount could be determined. It was revealed at this week’s meeting that the figure was over $200,000, which includes building, plumbing, and electrical fees, but does not include the required permits. School Superintendent Michael Delahanty addressed the Board, stating that the savings would be “applied directly to the project or returned to the taxpayers once the project is completed.” Selectman Arthur Barnes, who at the last meeting expressed concerns that the school district charged a fee for the use of the schools for police exams, addressed his remarks to Delahanty.

“I’ll be bold, I hope you’ll [Delahanty] remember this vote tonight and give us some consideration for the fee charged us for the police testing,” Barnes said. Delahanty responded by stating that

Alexis Leone (“limo lunch” winner), Faith Byerly, Olivia DeVito, and Jenna Toupin

issue which Barnes took issue with was an administrative oversight. “We do have specific policies on the use of our facilities, and I would say about 100 percent of the time, in my experience, anyway, if a request is given or made to the [School] Board, the Board grants that request. This is something that occurred primarily due to a mechanism that is in place for our rental use.

Soule Principal Anna Parrill and Susan Perrault, guidance counselor, with the girls on the limo lunch

“In this case, the fee was charged for the custodial time on these two dates in three years, and once that rental agreement is drafted, neither I or the Board sees that, and our procedure is to charge the group for custodial time unless there is a request for a waiver. So the process just went automatically into effect; went to accounts payable. Had we known, the Board would have waived the fee. Certainly, we will give every consideration if something like that were to ever be brought to our attention again,” Delahanty said. Selectman Everett McBride asked if there

was a place on the forms where the waiver could be requested.

Delahanty said that there is no box to be

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checked or any other method on the required forms to indicate that a waiver is requested, but that the petitioner must “request the waiver in writing.” “Then, it’s a written request of some kind,

okay,” McBride said. Selectman Pat Hargreaves asked about the

possibility of additional costs. “So, what is this going to cost me as a town, with our inspectors going out there two or three times a month inspecting this project above the $200,000 you want us to waive?” Hargreaves asked. Dr. LaBranche responded by stating that, “I

haven’t calculated that.” “I would think you would see this as a town

investment and not a separate investment from town versus school district,” LaBranche said. Hargreaves said that he understood that the money is coming from the taxpayers, no matter which “pocket” it was coming from. “I just want to make sure we’re not paying another $100,000, which means $300,000 coming out of this [the town’s] pocket,” Hargreaves said. “I can assure you that’s not going to happen. That’s an overstatement of the time that would be put into the project,” LaBranche said.

Selectman Roth said that she was the one

who asked that the issue be tabled until the monetary figures could be calculated.

“I made the original request that we have the fees somewhat calculated, and basically, this is transparency for the public to understand and I also want to demonstrate and I hope that my fellow selectmen will support this motion, but also to demonstrate that there should be reciprocity between the two sides of Geremonty Drive,” Roth said. Roth also noted her surprise at the actual dollar amount. “I was pretty surprised

at how much the fees were,” Roth said. McBride agreed that no matter which side of the street, school district, or town, it is the taxpayer who pays the bill. “It doesn’t make sense to me to charge the other side of the street, and yes, they’re going to have to take some time working with that ‘clerk of the works;’ I’m not sure what term you use for the gentleman that’s working with the school

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district to make sure we meet all the safety and building requirements, but we will. “It doesn’t make sense to take $200,000 from the school district and give it to the town because the town is the school. We are the taxpayers. We pay all the bills, and so if they can save us the $200,000 and reduce the bond or if some unforeseen problems happen that they don’t anticipate, they won’t have to go looking for the money,” McBride said. Hargreaves asked Delahanty how he (Delahanty) was going to give the money back.

“Whatever the balance is at the end of the project, we expect that we will pay the bond down more quickly.

It’s not our intention

to just expend the money. If we can come in less than the $22 million [the amount of the bond], then we can pay it down faster,” Delahanty said. The Board’s subsequent vote on the motion passed unanimously.

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