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Rindge’s newest selectman prioritizes failing infrastructure

RINDGE — Finding ways to streamline municipal costs while still maintaining public services and infrastructure are the objectives of Rindge’s newest Select Board member, Dan Aho.

Aho, who joins the Select Board with five years of experience on the town’s Budget Advisory Committee, said at the polls Tuesday that while he approved of the current Select Board’s handling of day-to-day issues, it could have done more to keep expenses down. “That might be where we are failing,” he said.

In a difficult economy, Aho said, town officials have a responsibility to taxpayers to find efficiencies in the budget whenever possible. After all, he said, taxpayers are the ones footing the bill.

At the town’s deliberative session in February, Budget Advisory Committee Chair Tom Coneys made a motion to reduce the proposed 18-month budget of $5,424,329 by $104,329 through cuts to town staffing, employee hours and increases in employee contributions to health and dental care premiums.

While Aho said he supported the overall concept Coney presented, he personally found in the Select Board’s proposed budget about $84,000 in savings that wouldn’t have required the town to tap into employee benefits. “I did not propose cutting one [employee’s] wage,” he said.

The town’s infrastructure, particularly its public safety departments, are in great need of repair, Aho said. A new building to house police officers and firefighters may be warranted, but it’s a question of timing and cost, he said. Town roads are also suffering, Aho said, and funding improvements to roads will be one of his priorities.

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