BEDFORD — In less than one hour, including accolades and a farewell from retiring Councilor Bill Dermody, voters approved the town’s $26,020,675 operating budget at the annual Budgetary Town Meeting on Wednesday.
The Public Works’ local road maintenance line item of $1 million was the only topic of discussion after resident Faith Schuetz made a motion to increase the amount to $1.4 million; the motion failed.
She said several years ago, town officials put a cap on road maintenance while the town was still growing and found the cost was too great and began to ask for bond money.
“Roads should be maintain as we go along, otherwise we will have this perpetual cycle of roads going into catastrophic failure or expensive repairs,” she said.
Dermody said the road maintenance program of $1 million was put into place a few years ago to fill cracks and clean out drainage areas and was not meant to rebuild roads. He said the $30 million bond will allow the town to address the 150 roads in need of repairs, some which have not been fixed since they were built in the ’60s. The budget, beginning in 2015 will be increased by $200,000 until it reaches $2 million for road maintenance. Roads identified some years ago by the Pavement Condition Index were deemed in failure, and need to be rebuilt.
“That $30 million bond is to address repairs of those roads. Some are in recoverable condition. The intent is to bring them back to usable and safe condition,” said Dermody. “Roads are going to fail. Mother nature does it to us every year. Frost heaves are the public works’ biggest nightmare.”
There was no discussion on the police union contract that will carry an increase in 2014 of $194,920, which has been allocated in the 2014-15 operating budget, and an increase of $143,668 in 2015.
Voters at the meeting approved the operating budget for fiscal year 2014-15, an increase of 2 cents per $1,000 assessed property valuation for a projected town tax rate of $4.99, or an $8 increase for a $400,000 home.
Before the meeting was adjourned, Chairman Chris Bandazian, who won re-election Tuesday, was recognized for his work on the council this year.
Dermody, who has been a councilor since 2008, decided not to run for another term this year. He was presented a plaque for his dedication to the town and his efforts to make sure Route 101 was kept on track with the state DOT’s improvement plan, and for promoting economic development in town.
Moderator Brian Shaughnessy, who also won re-election, thanked newly re-elected Town Clerk Lori Radke, her staff and election workers for helping to run a smooth March 11 election.