Committee OKs $23.6m budget

HUDSON – Voters at the annual Town Meeting will be asked to approve a $23.6 million operating budget for next year, after the Budget Committee approved the proposal Thursday night following a public hearing.

The town’s proposed tax rate would be $5.51 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, about a 3 percent increase. The current rate is $5.35.

The committee stuck to its previous decision not to recommend a new fire pumper truck that would cost the town $436,320 over a five-year lease.

It voted to recommend a $4.6 million bond for water utility improvements, the cost of which would be paid for by water users.

One of the more controversial discussions during the public hearing centered around a petitioned warrant article that would restore $75,000 to the library’s budget for full-time workers.

Selectman Shawn Jasper, speaking from the audience, said the warrant article would set a bad precedent. He said it could lead to any town department sponsoring similar warrant articles to restore line item cuts. He also questioned the legality of such an article.

“We want three whacks at getting (the amount) back in,” said library trustee Jane Bowles, referring to the public hearing, the upcoming Town Meeting and the ultimate ballot that will appear before voters.

According to Bowles, more than 100 residents signed the petition for the article.

Lynn Tryba can be reached at 594-6402 or