Monday’s RTM Meeting

OK, this may not be so bad.

Last night’s RTM meeting could have been ugly but it wasn’t. In fact, it ended earlier than expected and was far less contentious than anticipated.

A good portion of the Agenda was confirming appointments to a variety of town boards. It’s nice to see so many people volunteer to serve on these various committees and commissions. On the other hand, we have an awful lot of committees and commissions so I wonder how much overlap might exist. Food for thought.

Our big item for discussion was the $2.1 million to complete renovations on our oldest middle school. It’s a long, sordid story but basically, they spent lots of money repairing things they never anticipated when the work began. About $1.4 million was already committed to pure construction issues. The balance was for the so-called Day Two list, an itemized wish list of maintenance issues and new furniture and equipment that was not in the original budget. Some of this meant painting walls or buying ergonomic chairs for the media center. A big item was refinishing the gym floor and replacing wall padding. At the committee meetings last week, we were told the gym floor hadn’t been properly tended to in well over a decade and was considered unsafe.

A member of my Finance Committee last week talked about eliminating the Day Two list and I thought we discussed it and talked him out of it. Instead, he stood at the mike last night and wanted to reduce the funding by the exact amount of the Day Two list. And so we spent about an hour hashing this out. The Young Republican, who seconded it, felt the topic was worth a discussion and he wanted to hear people’s thoughts. Financially, by doing it now, much of it was going to be eligible for state reimbursements – should we wait until the 2006-2007 budget, none of it would be eligible. So right there, we’re trying to be fiscally prudent. I got up and spoke about not penalizing students and faculty for the lack of proper maintenance under previous management. Delay funding, we delay fixing a glaring problem.

In the end, his amendment was defeated and the funding was passed. Not everyone was happy with the way things turned out on this project and some lessons were learned (I hope). Still, funding this last piece means the school will meet its education specs and be on a par with the other two middle schools in town so that’s important.

The next big item was agreeing to a new contract with Cingular/ATT for a cell tower lease. Eileen, our Assistant Town Attorney asked us to take no action last week, feeling she could get a better deal. Sure enough, she arrived last night with a new deal that would net the town more money. It did mean, though, the resolution, as written, needed to be amended. I volunteered to handle that step and Eileen wrote it out for me. I figured if the party is asking me to step up my involvement, then I would do what I could to keep things moving. Of course it passed.

Once we approved a new lease for a farm in town, we were done at 10:15. We all then headed over, Republicans and Democrats alike, to the Angus for a “socialable soda.” We mixed well and I got to talk to some of the new members, getting to know them. I also chatted up our Town Clerk, the Assistant Town Clerk and members from my team. All in all, very pleasant. Robbie finished closing up at Cold Stone so dropped by to see what I do on my Monday nights. He chatted with some people until I shooed him home, since, after all, it was a school night.

I dragged myself home somewhat later but thought it was a night well spent on behalf of the town.