ROYALSTON – More than 60 registered voters turned out for Royalston’s annual general meeting, held on Saturday morning, June 26, under a large tent on The Common under cloudy skies and a blowing warm breeze. Selection committee chair Deb D’Amico encouraged attendees to complete a survey, made available at the registration table, which asked if voters would like to hold the annual meeting outdoors each year in a way permed. The first such meeting was held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and by the time this year’s city annual meeting was scheduled, city officials were unsure of any restrictions. would remain in place.
There was little controversy about Saturday’s 22-article mandate. Most of the discussion revolved around clause 12, which called for approval to raise and allocate $ 83,000 to cover the operating costs of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Resident Susan Wang rose to ask a question regarding both this article and the following article, which requested $ 1,300 to cover incident costs related to the operation of the processing plant.
“I apologize in advance if I lack context on this issue,” she began, “but I remember that last year in one of these meetings it was said that the sewer system would be self-funded, and then we ended up taking the stabilization fund, and it looks like we’re doing it again this year.
“I just think not everyone has the option of using the sewage system. For people who are in the most dispersed areas, we need to strengthen our own septic systems. But we also support people’s sewage systems – a sewage system that we cannot use. It’s very different from schools or libraries, where everyone has the option of using them or choosing not to use them.
Roland Hamel, a member of the Selectboard, who also serves as the city’s sewer commission, replied: “First of all, the federal government considers the whole city to be responsible for it, not just the users. Users pay the cost of everything we need for operations. But the city is responsible, because it’s city equipment, for the maintenance of the pumping stations and the pumps and things.
“We had a lot of costs last year and the year before because things were failing due to lack of maintenance. We were able to fix that and luckily the locals voted to give us extra money for the cost of all these repairs. “
Hamel then addressed the need for taxpayers to bear a share of the cost of the plant.
“As far as being fair for the whole city,” he continued, “it’s the responsibility of the whole city because it’s the installation of the city and, where you and I don’t use it, we have a responsibility to it.
“If we don’t cover those costs, what will happen is we’ll be fined by the federal government or the state – the EPA or the DEP – and the whole city will have to pay the fine.” It’s a tough situation, but it’s the best we can do.
Phil Leger, Chairman of the Board of Health, stood up to say, “As citizens of Royalston, we have a moral responsibility as responsible Americans to ensure that everyone in our town has health. drinking water whether or not they live in South Royalston. . We all live here, we all pay taxes, it’s our responsibility. We own the problem – we all do. So we have to make sure that everyone in town enjoys the purity of water that I enjoy every day.
Resident Gary Winitzer wanted to know why the amount of money requested for operations increased by approximately $ 13,000 from $ 70.00 last year to $ 83,000 in FY22.
D’Amico explained that the intergovernmental deal Royalston signed for the town of Athol to operate the plant only covered part of fiscal year 21, while the amount requested on Saturday was to cover the entire fiscal year 22. She also said the deal with Athol saves the city money, noting that bids solicited last year from private contractors to operate the processing plant have greatly exceeded $ 100,000. Royalston, she said, was getting a “good deal” from her deal with Athol.
The article calling for ownership was adopted unanimously.
Two items designed to help revitalize Royalston South Village were also approved, with little opposition. The first provides $ 5,500 to complete the recently dedicated South Royalston Gazebo rail project. The second provides $ 9,500 for the purchase of the plot of land that once housed Pete & Henry’s restaurant, which was destroyed by fire about three years ago. The Royalston South Village Revitalization Committee hopes to use the site to provide a toilet block and other amenities for visitors to Royalston.
Greg Vine can be contacted at [email protected]