SPENCER – It was an old-school special Town Meeting Thursday when the electronic voting system failed and residents were asked to hold up cards to vote.
But once the cards were handed out, voters quickly made their way through the 16-article warrant, putting a pause on large-scale solar projects and paying unpaid bills from the last fiscal year.
With little discussion, voters agreed that the town should take 6 months to create a proposal for new bylaws regulating solar installations before allowing any new projects in town.
In 2022, voters approved solar regulations which were later rejected by the state and must now be updated, Town Moderator William Shemeth said.
And in a similar article, they agreed to give local officials 6 months to craft plans to deal with energy storage systems which are often part of solar installations.
Several fiscal housekeeping articles were passed quickly including increases in regional school transportation which is typical as the final figures aren’t available at the annual Town Meeting, Shemeth explained.
Also approved unanimously were requests to pay bills received after the close of Fiscal Year 2023.
One of those bills was related to the town’s failure to pay the state Department of Unemployment Assistance since 2012, Shemeth said.
“Those bills are only sent through emails and there was an email glitch; all the notices were caught up in a spam filter,” he said.
The glitch was noticed by a systems administrator. While the town owed $58,000, about $39,000 in interest was added to the bill, Shemeth said.
The town appealed the additional charge but the request was denied bringing the total due to $97,000.
The town is self-insured for unemployment. The state pays unemployment claims from Spencer employees and then bills the town, officials said.
Voters also agreed to move just under $140,000 from free cash to the Senior Center Capital Improvement Account. The funds came from a rental agreement with the trial court, which leased space on the third floor of the Senior Center while the Western Worcester District Court in East Brookfield was undergoing renovations.
The funds are likely to be used to replace outdated single-pane windows at the Senior Center in the former Maple Street School.
Despite a recommendation from resident Roger Foss, who thought the money should be kept in the general fund until bids are sought for the project, voters agreed to move the money.
Spencer Town Meetings are steeped in tradition beginning with the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem, this time by Town Clerk Sandra Fritze.
Shemeth also recognized Veterans and active duty service members, thanking them and noting that the town will mark Veterans Day with a parade at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 11).