By Stephanie Bergman
ESSEX — A number of proposals from May's failed Proposition 2 1/2 override votes will be back on the table when Essex holds a special town meeting Nov, 14.
The meeting will cover issues ranging from appropriating close to $800,000 in surplus revenue to advancing plans for Conomo Point to relocating town hall.
The police department is asking for a new police cruiser, a modular unit to expand the police station, updated radios and money to cover police overtime for special town events. "I sincerely appeal to people to vote for these things," said Essex Police Chief Peter Silva.
The cruiser and the modular unit were on the override ballot that failed in May, along with a new copier for the Town Hall. The copier is also back on the town warrant.
Silva said the items on the warrant are the absolute minimum that the department can live with.
"The existing police cruiser is climbing up toward $8,000 in repairs and has a host of other issues," said Silva. "We're basically just nursing the car in hopes that that particular article passes. The car should have been retired a year ago."
The updated radios are needed to comply with new Federal Communications Commission rules about how much bandwidth a radio can use. Because of the large number of radios in use in America, the FCC is requiring police departments to use radios that can narrow their frequencies to avoid the different channels bleeding into one another.
According to Silva, not only are the current police radios not in compliance with the new standards, which must be adopted be Dec. 31, 2012 - they do not have the technology required to be brought into compliance.
"It goes to show you how old our radios are, that they don't even have the capability to comply," said Silva.
Other police department needs, like the modular unit and increased funding for police overtime, Silva said, are stopgap measures meant to combat basic issues like the lack of an interview room in the station and the difficulty of affording a police presence at town events like ClamFest.
"This is not the panacea, this is a temporary solution until we come up with some better permanent solution," said Silva. "(The modular unit) is going to afford our department things we haven't been able to provide the community, like privacy when they come to the station."
While an override was needed to provide the extra funds in May, extra money that was budgeted but not spent is now available to cover some expenses.
Certified as free cash, Essex has $481,897 in the general fund, $196,670 in the water enterprise fund and $223,120 in the sewer enterprise fund.
That money is unlikely to cover the entire wish list given in the warrant; however, the money in the sewer fund will most likely cover the two articles relating to sewer issues.
Among the requests: $116 in payments for repairs to the outboard motor on the shellfish constable's boat that were not filed until after the fiscal year ended, $2,500 to pay short term interest of the town debt and an unknown sum to purchase a new property for town hall.
"Many articles at a special town meeting are housekeeping," said town administrator Brendhan Zubricki.
Articles representing routine business include some directing money to the Financial Committee's reserve fund and giving the library permission to apply for state grants. Under state law, libraries must gain Town Meeting approval to apply for grants.
There are also four articles about the status of Conomo Point, including one planning to have northern Conomo Point subdivided as southern Conomo Point has been.
Another article would add a category for sheet metal permits to the town bylaws.
Stephanie Bergman can be reached at 978-283-3451, or at email@example.com.