The brunt of the cuts came in the police and fire department budgets. Each was forced to slash $35,000 from their budgets, in addition to the thousands of dollars already eliminated during selectmen’s monthlong budget review.
Breen said it would mean not fully staffing 15-member firefighter shifts, posing a risk to public safety. For 12 weeks earlier this year, budget cuts forced the department to go without a full complement of firefighters, including only 13 on some shifts, he said.
But the latest capital improvement plan includes thousands of dollars for leasing or purchasing fire department vehicles. Selectmen briefly reviewed the plan last night before deciding to consider it further at upcoming meetings.
One major expenditure no longer on the town’s expense list is $800,000 requested in a warrant article for the Pond Street sewer and water line extension — a project Hickey said would serve three to four dozen homes.
A group of neighbors led by Stillwater Circle resident Charles Albert asked the board to reconsider the project, which he said would require each of the homeowners to pay more than $10,000 to connect to the line.
The homes already have private well and septic systems, though board Chairman Patrick Hargreaves said some have failed.
“We see no meaningful impact with the installation of town sewer and water,” Albert said.
The majority of residents who attended two public meetings on the project have opposed the extension, Hargreaves said. Selectmen voted unanimously to withdraw the proposal, saying residents could propose a petition warrant article if they really wanted the project.
A petition warrant article would require signatures from at least 25 residents before going before voters in March.
Also last night, selectmen unanimously approved a lease agreement with the Greater Salem Caregivers that allows the nonprofit organization to rent space at Town Hall for $200 per month. The space was formally occupied by the state Division of Motor Vehicles.