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February 02. 2013 5:13PM

Auburn leaves warrant untouched after deliberative session

Though Auburn’s deliberative session saw much discussion on some of the more controversial warrants up this year, all proposed warrants will appear on the town ballot as they were originally presented, with no amendments having even been proposed.<br /><br />
Of those warrants discussed, perhaps the most contentious was the petition warrant to abolish the town’s Police Commission, producing a roughly 45-minute debate.<br /><br />
The debate hinged on the question of whether the commission was a superfluous layer of government or provided checks and balances for the department’s management.<br /><br />
“Those that supported the article felt that it was a streamlining of the government structure, that the police department was no different from fire or highway or what have you, that everybody else answers directly to the selectman and so should the police,” said Town Administrator William Herman.<br /><br />
There was also a general sentiment among the supporters that the warrant was not directed at the chief or any current or past commissioners.<br /><br />
“(With those in the opposition), one described it specifically as a ‘buffer’ between the police department and the board of selectmen,” said Herman. “One woman felt that the selectmen couldn’t act in an objective manner, but I would describe most of what was said as ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”<br /><br />
Both arguments enjoyed some applause. There was a roughly even split at the session between supporters of the warrant to abolish and those in the opposition. Roughly 120 people were in attendance.<br /><br />
Other warrants to see discussion were a $34,675 Mosquito Control Program – with questions raised on its environmental safety and effectiveness – and a lease/purchase agreement on a replacement fire truck for the department with questions of the cost and the merits of the lease method.<br /><br />
The fire warrant will approve a 7-8 year lease as a part of a department program to keep their trucks on a 20 year life cycle, setting up regular replacement cycle using such lease arrangements to keep up their fleet without having to force big onetime expenditures on the voters or run a truck past its lifecycle. The payments will come from surpluses, and will have no tax impact.<br /><br />
In addition, Herman notes that the specific truck which is to be replaced through this warrant has been a “lemon.”<br /><br />
“It’s been a problem since they got it, and it has been costly in maintenance to the tune of $15-25 thousand a year,” he said.<br /><br />
The police contract ($33,313) and the operating budget ($4,937,242) were passed to the ballot without conversation or question.<br /><br />
Of the warrants which will have a tax impact, the operating budget is estimated at $4.28 per $100,000, the police contract at 5 cents per $100,000, and the mosquito control program at 6 cents per $100,000, meaning if all warrants pass, the tax rate will be set at $4.39 per $100,000, a 20 cent increase from last year’s rate.

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