December 2 Town Meeting articles discussed at recent Warrant Committee meeting
The Warrant Committee met last week to discuss articles that will go before Town Meeting in December. The next Town Meeting, originally scheduled for January 2020, had to be moved to December 2, 2019. Select Chair Michael Zullas and Town Administrator Michael Dennehy explained this was required since there were budget articles included in the Warrant.
Dennehy consulted the Department of Revenue who stated by regulation changes to the fiscal year budget needed to be done before the end of the calendar year.
Zullas and Dennehy told the committee that the budget shortfall due to the increased cost of Waste and Recycling collection has been solved. Better than expected income from different sources such as interest on investments, excise taxes, and increased sales of trash stickers helped close the deficit. There as also an unexpected increase in the fiscal year 2019 PILOT payment from Milton Academy. The revenue increases were applied to the town budget deficit and would not correct any cuts to the school budget.
The committee voted to recommend approval of an article creating a revolving account for Milton Landing. Currently rents from rentals at Milton Landing go to the Parks Department and are part of their department revenue. The revolving account will, upon approval, receive rental income which will be used to fund maintenance and improvements to the landing.
A related article was also approved that will allow the Select Board to petition the state legislature for permission to remove the position of Harbor Master from Civil Service requirements. The current civil service requirement will substantially delay trying to fill the position. Although the role does have inherent law enforcement powers, keeping the requirement will not, in the opinion of the Select Board, add any benefit. It will report directly to the Town Administrator.
The Committee also voted to recommend accepting an article allowing the Select Board to receive easements of property in Town. This is an annual article allowing the Town access to areas such as abandoned property in case of emergencies.
Also articles recommended for Town Meeting approval adjust departmental budgets, construct new sewer lines where none previously existed to several houses along Randolph Avenue, and create an associate member of the Planning Board for special permits.
The departmental budget adjustments are needed to properly account for the increase in solid waste/recycling costs. According to Berkley several residents along Randolph Avenue who currently have septic systems approached the town about converting to town sewer. The recommended article allows for the design and construction of the town sewage system to add those nine homes. Residents of those homes will reimburse 2/3 of the cost of the project.
The Associate Planning Board member for Special Permits plan is designed to prevent delays in the special permit process. If planning board members miss special permit hearings due to illness, conflict of interest, or other such reason the process would need to begin again. With an associate member attending the hearings the person can step in and prevent delays. The associate member will serve only for special permits and is appointed by the Planning Board with a super-majority.
The Warrant Committee agreed to meet again on November 18. The Town Meeting is scheduled for December 2.
– Contributed by Doug Scibeck.