PERU -- Voters at the annual town meeting have approved $1.73 million in spending for fiscal 2013 that includes the purchase of a new police cruiser and new equipment for the highway department.
At the Saturday meeting, voters passed the entire 37-article warrant, primarily endorsing expenditures for the new fiscal year starting July 1.
The new budget is $70,000, or 4 percent, above the current spending plan.
The two-hour gathering at Town Hall proved to be a low-key but informative question and answer session between residents and town officials, according to Selectman Edward Richards.
"People asked a lot of intelligent questions," Richards said. "It was one of the most cordial [town] meetings I’ve been to in a long, long time."
Peru voters agreed to use the town’s free cash account to pay for the two new municipal vehicles. They approved spending $41,000 in surplus funds for a 2012 Ford Explorer police cruiser, which will replace a worn out Chevy Impala, town officials have said.
The town will also set aside $100,000 from free cash for an 18,000-lb. excavator and 10-ton trailer, machinery the highway department has leased for the past 10 years.
Meanwhile, Peru will spend 2 percent more on education in fiscal 2013 as assessment for the Central Berkshire Regional School District budget rose to $845,906.
Voters also approved five separate requests to utilize free cash to pay for its portion of road repairs required after Tropical Storm Irene. The Federal Emergency Management Agency funded 75 percent or more of fixes to Hickingbotham, Curtin, Strong and Pierce roads as well as a section of Route 143, which were all damaged or destroyed in the August 2011 disaster; the town owes the remaining amount, about $30,400.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.