HINSDALE — Town Moderator James Sullivan turned to his right and addressed the man of the hour.
"You're the epitome of public service," Sullivan said Wednesday night.
Those were among of the words of praise for retiring Selectman Bruce Marshall, who participated in his last annual town meeting on Wednesday.
The longtime selectman — he has served on the board for 39 years — was honored at the opening of the meeting. He was presented with certificates of appreciation from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and the from state House and Senate.
"I love this town," Marshall told the crowd.
Then came the business at hand.
It took the room over two hours to work through the first nine articles. The $5.85 million budget for fiscal 2018, an increase of 2.66 percent over the current year, passed easily after a long discussion over cost increases to a number of line items.
Residents Dave Kokindo and Michael Ciaburri were frequent speakers during the process, asking for more details on line item after line item.
Tempers frayed as the night wore on.
Chairman of the Board of Assessors Peter Persoff earned a rebuke from Sullivan when he went off-topic on an article requesting new software for his town department. The moderator warned that Persoff's complaints about the Finance Committee not recommending the article were out of order.
"Your feelings are immaterial to the article," Sullivan said.
The town tabled a proposition to task the Select Board with repairing private roads in town. Property owners would have provided funding for the project through betterment charges.
But the proposition was too vague for the crowd and it was killed on the floor.
Debate over energy regulations and a new animal control bylaw consumed the first hour and a half, while line items on the budget took the meeting through 10 p.m.
Though the "stretch energy" regulations ultimately passed, the warrant item — meant to encourage green building and one of five criteria that would put the town in line for state funds set aside for green communities— generated debate over its scope.
Though the new regulations would only apply to new construction, the town was still hesitant on the language of the item.
"I don't want the government telling us what to do" when it comes to construction, said resident Sean Murphy.
After some more back and forth over the item, it passed by majority.
Voters also approved amended language on the animal control bylaw that amended language to leave out a specific, 6 foot length for dog leashes — one of the main sticking points in a warrant article designed to bring the town into compliance with state law.
The meeting also was the last for Town Administrator Ryan Aylesworth's, who is leaving after a year and seven months for a town manager position in Enfield, N.H..
Aylesworth said he was happy to see the town pass funding a road stabilization fund at $50,000 a year. After five years the town will begin to withdraw funds from the account to deal with road and bridge repairs — a bulwark against the possibility of state Chapter 90 funds reducing over the next few years.
"It's a very proactive, important step for the future," Aylesworth said. "I'm happy to see that go through— we often have problems with roads and I'm glad to see the town embrace that."
Reach staff writer Eoin Higgins at 413-496-6236 or @BE_EoinHiggins.
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