Norton voters demanded to form a public works department, change the water and sewer commission to an appointed council | Local News


NORTON — Residents at Tuesday’s annual town meeting are being asked to support the creation of a public works department and transform the elected water and sewer commission into an appointed body.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the school.

A proposed budget of $65.2 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that preserves most existing services is high on the meeting’s agenda.

The budget represents an increase of $1.7 million, or 2.7%, over this year’s expenditure of $63.4 million.

The recommended budget would increase funding for local governments and schools by about 2% each.

Schools face a $915,514 shortfall from their requested 4.8% budget increase, and the general government is being asked to take a $372,886 reduction in its requested 4.5% increase.

Police and fire departments have called for overtime accounts to be reduced, which members of the finance committee say could sometimes reduce shift staff and increase response times.

As for forming a DPW, most communities in the region have already done so, merging the highways, water and sewer departments.

A DPW manager would oversee the new department, with a salary range of $123,000 to $170,000. The position would be appointed by the Director General.

The elected water and sewer commission would be appointed by some council members, who propose the changes.

The water and sewer commission has come under fire in recent years for the city’s water quality issues that are largely being resolved with a new $11 million treatment plant.

However, the commission was put under the microscope due to cost overruns for the plant and the main West Main Street sewer project.

Some board members and others argued that an appointed water and sewer commission would have more responsibilities.

Creating a DPW and a water and sewer commission would require changes to the city’s charter and bylaws.

Previous attempts to abolish the elected commission failed.

Construction and equipment requests total $1.4 million.

Voters are also being asked to support the state’s request for approval to increase the number of liquor licenses in the city by two.

A few zoning bylaw amendments are also up for vote, including changing just over 16 acres on Elm and Cross streets from industrial to commercial zoning in the village.


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