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Ashland town buildings to be surveyed for needed ADA upgrades

October 07, 2021
ASHLAND — At their Oct. 4 meeting, the Ashland selectmen learned of the need for ADA upgrades in town buildings and facilities, reviewed proposed budgets for 2022, and discussed tax abatements.

Town Manager Fred Welch explained that, because of the town's past acceptance of federal and state funds for projects, it must make improvements to all town buildings and facilities to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA. The Town is also supposed to appoint an ADA coordinator for its buildings and facilities. There is

therefore a need to study all town properties to see what is needed to make them ADA compliant. Welch will meet with the department heads to begin that review process. He suggested that there might be an ADA coordinator in each department. He expressed concern about the cost and the review process for the needed ADA improvements. The Town Manager and the department heads will report back to the selectmen with the results of their studies.

The review of 2022 budgets began with Town Clerk/Tax Collector Patsy Tucker. She asked for a 3 percent salary increase as well as increases in postage because of rising postage rates, and in tax collector expenses. Ann Barney, who is Parks & Recreation Director as well as a Selectman, also asked for salary increases for her position, beach,

summer camp and after school staff, in part to add another summer camp counselor to serve more children. Electricity at the campground and the clubhouse, heating fuel at the clubhouse, and campground cleaning, were also slated for increases.

The Town Manager would level fund the legal expenses line as he could see no need to increase it. He suggested $1 for the Economic Development Committee, which led to a discussion of the defunct committee which has not met in two years. Selectmen Robert Letourneau and Eli Badger both spoke of the need for such a committee to

encourage economic growth. Badger noted the lack of volunteers for the committee and for the Conservation Commission, which has not met since 2016 and also has a suggested budget of $1. Welch proposed level funding the Emergency Management budget. He suggested eliminating the Street Lighting line entirely, as it has recently been funded at zero dollars. The Electric Department now simply provides street lighting

as part of its service to the community. Communities for Alcohol and Drug-free Youth (CADY) has asked for a $1000 appropriation in the budget. Welch suggested that they follow the usual process for such outside agencies, and be asked to present a petitioned warrant article so that their request can be voted on separately at the Town election.

Welch informed the selectmen that he had signed a contract for new electric meters with Eaton Corporation after the company agreed to the changes the town wanted. The town staff has prepared a payment schedule that would pay off the cost of the meters within a year, keeping within the Electric Department's revenue stream.

The selectmen approved an abatement request for a recreational camper that had been removed from a local campground last year. But, since the town was never informed of the removal, tax bills were still being sent to the camper's owner. Lakes Region Community Developers, the owners of Harvey Heights (formerly Ledgewood Estates) have sent an Alternate Assessment Election to the Town, which would reduce their tax payments. At the Town Manager suggestion, the selectmen voted to send that request to the Town Attorney for review,

The selectmen ended their meeting with a non-public session.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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