Streetlights in Mansfield have been a key , and selectman/light commissioner George Dentino introduced an idea on Wednesday that could fund turning on over 1,000 lights in the town.
“I don’t believe this will cover the entire cost for the town, but it’ll make a pretty good dent,” Dentino said.
Mansfield Electric Department director Gary Babin said that 1,000 streetlights would need about $45,000 to turn back on in terms of labor.
Dentino suggested that the board request funds from the Mansfield Electric PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) to pay for the $45,000.
Commissioner Jess Aptowitz said he would support the idea if it was found that it possible to request those funds at this time.
“I would wholeheartedly vote for this the moment I know it’s legal,” he said. “I agree with it theoretically.”
If it were deemed possible, the measure would have to be done in the next fiscal year so as to make an adjustment to appropriations after town meeting.
“If we try to do it this year we don’t have the appropriations to pay that,” town manager William Ross said.
Aptowitz said that this would have to be in a revolving fund, so that seven tenths, the allotted amount of appropriations that must go to schools, would be earmarked and designated for use in this project alone.
Kevin Moran said that he has some reservations about the idea, because it could allow the town to take as much money as its elected officials wanted for just about anything.
“Taking this to the extreme level, if this is fine and good, could we make a similar motion that the electric department make a $2 million contribution to the schools in lieu of taxes to cover the shortfall?” he said. “This gets into whether or not we’re taxing the rate payers?”
The commissioners agreed to table the discussion until next meeting when more information would be available