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By Jennifer Lade
Standard-Times staff writer
October 28, 2008 6:00 AM

WAREHAM - Although an article concerning the budget for fiscal 2009 was tabled at Town Meeting on Monday, the fiscal worries of the town were still omnipresent.
Several articles concerning the town's finances were debated at great length throughout the meeting, held in the Wareham High School auditorium with 352 voters present.
Voters rescinded a spring Town Meeting vote granting money for two new police cruisers, a cut proposed by interim Town Administrator John Sanguinet to balance a budget deficit of $1.9 million. The two cruisers, which would have cost a total of approximately $63,000, were requested as additions to the 32-car fleet.
Police Chief Thomas Joyce said seven of the 17 marked cars in the fleet have more than 100,000 miles on them, aggravating maintenance costs.
"We're going to be in a situation where we've got an entire fleet of cars with over 100,000 miles on them," he said.
Selectman Jane Donahue said if police cruisers were kept in the budget, a different item would have to be cut to keep the budget balanced. That could include a different part of the police budget, she said.
An article that would pay legal bills from fiscal 2008 came in the wake of the police cruiser article, prompting some voters to urge a "no" vote. They rationalized that with other areas of the budget taking cuts, legal spending, which has been on the rise in recent years, should be curbed.
Mr. Sanguinet said the bill was for services already rendered and, if not paid, could cause town counsel to stop its service, as well as give Wareham a reputation for not paying its bills.
"We have already used the service of town counsel and they're looking for payment," Mr. Sanguinet said.
Selectman Bruce Sauvageau said most of the legal costs come from land-use issues.
"We get sued, we don't sue," he said, adding that the budget consistently allots insufficient funds for legal bills.
The article, which required a nine-tenths vote, finally passed by one vote. An article paying a 2008 NStar bill passed unanimously without debate.
At the beginning of the meeting, Article 1, to approve the fiscal 2009 budget, was tabled with the plan to postpone the vote until Nov. 17, when the town might have a better idea of how much money it will receive in state aid.
"It may not be the best way to do this, but we felt generally that we should have more time," Finance Committee Chairman Dick Paulsen said.
Town Meeting resumes tonight at 7.
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