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    Saturday, September 24, 2022

    Preston reschedules town meeting on ARP

    Preston — Town officials have rescheduled the town meeting on the proposed spending plan for the town’s $1.2 million American Rescue Plan grant for 7 p.m. July 7 at Preston Plains Middle School.

    The Board of Selectmen was forced to reschedule the town meeting due to advanced time requirements for publishing a legal notice on the meeting. Thursday’s planned town meeting was canceled, because the legal notice was published one day too late, First Selectwoman Sandra Allyn-Gauthier said.

    The Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen last week approved the proposed budget totaling $1,115,646, which leaves $151,545 in reserve for future consideration. A summary of the spending plan is posted on the town website, preston-ct.org.

    An ordinance passed at the June 9 budget town meeting calls for any spending item over $50,000 to require town meeting approval.

    The budget contains several items above that level, including $160,000 needed to complete the purchase of a pumper firetruck, $210,000 for a large plow truck, $84,000 for a smaller plow truck and $190,000 for Town Hall safety and accessibility improvements. Part of the Town Hall work would replace a sidewalk that leads to the rear door in the upper level. Allyn-Gauthier said that would improve safety and allow for one-way flow through the hallway if COVID-19 or other health restrictions are needed again.

    The lone personnel item is the request to hire an additional full-time firefighter to cover shifts where volunteer support has been lacking. Town officials have put off placing the cost in the operating budget to consider the item in the ARP spending plan. The town now has a full-time paid fire chief, a full-time fire captain and hires per diem firefighters to cover three shifts per day, seven days a week.

    The plan calls for using ARP money to fund the full salary of $86,300 in the 2022-23 fiscal year, reducing the ARP share to $64,725 in the second year and to $32,363 in the third year to ease the cost into the regular town budget.

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