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February 20. 2013 10:55PM

Brookline voters to decide on Town Hall renovations

BROOKLINE - Town Hall renovations and a 4.5 percent increase in the operating budget are some of the proposals that will be discussed by voters at next month's Town Meeting.

According to Town Administrator Tad Putney, Brookline is seeking $25,000 to renovate the ground floor of Town Hall after the police department moves into its new facility in the spring. Construction on the new police station on Route 13 is under way.

Putney said that if voters approve the $25,000 request, the town clerk, tax collector and building inspector will move to the ground floor, making it easier for the public to access those offices because there are no stairs to climb.

The ground floor will also be used to house the town's food pantry, saving residents $2,000 a year in heating costs for the pantry's current location across the street from Town Hall in the former ambulance facility.

"The renovations will also provide the welfare officer with an office for confidential meetings with clients," said Putney.

And for the first time since he took the position, Putney will actually have an office as well.

The 2013 operating budget, totaling $4,054,329, is up $189,641 or 4.5 percent over last year. Putney said the top three contributors to the increase include $62,000 for a mandated town-wide revaluation, $50,884 in interest payments for the new police station bond, and $60,000 for plowing and sanding that had been removed from last year's budget at town meeting because it hadn't been a snowy winter.

"These three items alone account for $172,884 of the increase," said Putney.

Tonight at 7 p.m. at the Brookline Public Library, Putney and Peter Webb will be hosting a forum called "Town Meeting 101" to help people understand the process going into town and school district meetings in March.

"For residents who may not have attended such meetings in the past, we will provide information on how the meetings are run, how residents can participate and impact the outcome, and we will review the specific items residents will be voting on at this year's town meeting," said Putney.

Elections will be held on March 12 from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Captain Samuel Douglass Academy. Town Meeting will be held on March 13 at 7 p.m. at the academy as well.

nfoster@newstote.com


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