I’m not going to get into the details now on all that happened during the first session of Annual Town Meeting. I will tell you that no Articles were voted down.

Two amendments passed, but only those by Town officials to “fix” their Articles:

  • Article 7 was amended to change a mistake referring to an annual salary as an hourly wage.
  • Article 13 was amended to include the updated figures as I detailed in yesterday’s post.

Don’t let that fool you into thinking everything was easily passed. 

I was right about controversies over an employee stipend, Kallander Field capital item, and the Library CPA Article. (I was wrong about a hold on the Open Space Preservation Commision Budget. That passed without an issue.)

There were some failed amendments by residents, and multiple debates, including one really long one. But more on that on Monday.

What’s still up for vote tonight are Articles 24-35. Those include the seven citizen petitions. You can read more about those here.

The meeting resumes at 7:00 pm tonight.

Updated (3/23/19 7:07 pm): I forgot to note that Article 10 Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Transfers was “indefinitely postponed” at request of selectmen. It wasn’t needed this year.


Be sure to grab this and other handouts on the materials table!

(click to enlarge)

If you were thinking that an Article you care about is too far down the Warrant to bother coming for the afternoon session, you might want to think again.

A handout from the Town Moderator clarifies that he hopes to make use of a new rule passed last year. The Consent Agenda allows him to bundle for consideration Articles he thinks could be passed as a group. This year, he has identified Articles 1-9, 12, 14-17, and 28.

Be sure to grab the handout on the materials table for details.

If you can’t make it out (though I hope you can), I’ll be live tweeting from here. You can follow that at #SboroATM19

Updated (3/23/19 1:08 pm): To further clarify, voters will have the option of holding any (or all) items for individual consideration by shouting hold when he lists off the Articles.


Post image for Town Meeting 2019: Updated overview of Warrant, context, and links (plus the Annual Report)

Above: To prepare for Town Meeting some voters will want to dive into the official Budget Book and Annual Report. Others will just want the basic overview. Info and links for both kinds of voters are below.

Tomorrow, voters will again have a lot of decisions to make about how to spend taxpayer money and run our government.

Residents will authorize how much our taxes go up, what projects for the community will move ahead or get pushed/scrapped, and what changes are made to the Town’s bylaws.

Trying to read the whole Warrant can be intimidating and confusing – especially to newbies. (And proponents of moving the meeting to open on Saturday are hoping for a lot of you.) So, I’ve tried to make it easier to understand what voters are being asked.

The Town’s administration tried to provide context on what is and isn’t included in budgets. From the Budget Book for the fiscal year beginning July 1st:

The FY2020 budget is a continuation of a multi -year challenge to mitigate tax rate increases as the construction of the Public Safety Facility is well underway, and Recreation facility
repairs and improvements, Library renovations and repairs, Transfer Station improvements, and Senior Center building improvements are all being proposed for funding considerations. This will require difficult decisions for the Town, as prioritizing these and other requests will become essential in developing future plans and budgets.

Readers who have been closely following the budget issues this year know that a lot of compromises were made along the way. The final result is a less than 3% projected tax increase. (The book lists it as 2.67%. I believe that will be changed to 2.68% based on one updated Capital Expense. But we’ll all find out the real final number tomorrow.)

Before you approve funds for this year’s budget, you might want to know what the Town has been up to over the past year. The 2018 Annual Report has been posted. You can read that here.

Town Meeting is scheduled to start at 1:00 pm on Saturday, March 23rd at Trottier Middle School. (For more details on the meeting schedule, click here.) Free onsite babysitting will be provided, though pre-registration is requested. 

Now, here’s my updated overview of the 2019 Warrant. For those of you new to Town Meeting, the first several Articles are usually pro forma with little to no discussion. I’ve bolded the Articles that I think will require discussion (or prompt debate). [click to keep reading…]


Post image for Unplugged Community Read – Parents invited to read and talk about screen time challenges

Above: SYFS and the Library are teaming up on a Community Read as part of the “Unplugged Initiative” to help parents grappling with impacts of screen time on their children – both young ones and young adults – and what to do about it. (image cropped from flyer)

Southborough parents are invited to check out a book and save the date, then “unplug. read. discuss.”

Southborough Youth and Family Services and the Southborough Library are organizing an “Unplugged Community Read”. The book selection is “Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time.”

Parents are encouraged to check out the book and read it in time for a group discussion at the Library. That will take place 7:00 pm on Tuesday, April 30th. Books are available for checkout at the Library. 

(So, if you’re visiting the Library on Saturday morning for the Children’s Room Grand Re-Opening or the book sale, swing by the Front Desk to ask about the book.)

Unplugged Community ReadWorried that you won’t have time to get through the whole book (or any of it)? SYFS invites to come on out that night anyway. (Conversely, if you can’t make the talk, you can still read the book.)

The flyer promotes:

Want an opportunity to discuss the stress that accompanies screen time battles at home? Join us for a community read of Reset Your Child’s brain by Victoria Dunckley, MD

Screen time. It can cause tension in any family whether your children are young or young adults. Some youth get irritable and others revved up. It can affect homework, sleep, socializing or jobs. For some families it’s annoying and for others it’s much bigger than that. However it affects your family, join us to discuss the book and other strategies or struggles.

I have to say, that I appreciate SYFS’ ongoing attempts at a community approach to the “Unplugged Initiative”. It’s a whole lot easier to cut back on your kids’ screen time when they know that some of their friends have the same/similar restrictions.

The book discussion doesn’t currently have an attendance limit, but they are asking for pre-registration to help them plan. You can sign up here.

You can also register by calling or emailing Shannon at skinayman@southboroughma.com or by calling 508-481-5676, ext 3.


Membership Drive and Bag Sale

(click to enlarge)

This Saturday, the Southborough Library is holding a Grand Re-Opening for the Children’s Room. (Staff and volunteers have been busily stocking the shelves in preparation.)

In coordination with opening up the downstairs, The Friends of the Southborough Library are holding a special sale.

It will run during the celebration hours (10:00 am – noon). So it won’t interfere with attending Town Meeting.

We’re offering a free Southborough Library tote bag to anyone who becomes a member. (Or renews their annual membership).

Membership fees run from just $5-$15 (click on flyer right).

In addition, for just $10 you can stuff that bag – or your old Friends canvas tote bag –  with books. (Specifically, the book sale books. Not books from the Library’s collection!)

Join us in supporting the Library. Friends’ funds help support Library programs, museum passes, and more.


Post image for Town Election: Last call to throw your hat in the ring <em>(and acknowledging outgoing selectmen)</em>

I’m happy to share that it looks like there won’t be an empty seat on the May ballot. (Although, some candidates have yet to return papers and those who did can still change their minds.)*

Since I last posted, Marnie Hoolahan pulled papers to run for the Planning Board. In addition, papers were returned by two more of the candidates for selectmen.

Still, I hate to see so many uncontested seats. That’s no slight on any of the candidates. And I’m sure some of the incumbents have earned our trust. I just like to know that elected officials have been chosen by voters. 

To quote Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf back in 2011 when she called for more than two candidates to run to take over her seat:

A public debate must take place in this town for the benefit of the community.

If you’ve been on the fence about running – you still have until 5:00 pm today to run down to the Town Clerk’s office and pull papers.

Further down, I’ve listed the candidates who have already pulled/filed papers for the 2019 Town Election. But first, I want to share more on decisions by current selectmen Phaneuf and Brian Shifrin not to run for re-election.

It’s worth noting that this May, Selectwoman Phaneuf will be completing almost 14 years of service as a member of the board. Prior to her election in 2014 and re-election in 2016, she had served from 2002 – 2011. (That was back when the board was only three people and prior to legislation increasing the Town Administrator’s authority.) In 2011, she stepped down for personal reasons. Phaneuf has also served in elected positions on Southborough Housing Authority and the Regional School Committee in the past, plus other appointed positions.

But, she’s not done. Phaneuf announced at this week’s Board of Selectmen meeting that she will now focus on senior issues. That includes continuing her work on the Town’s Americans with Disabilities Act Committee. She said that the board had been aware of her decision not to run again for about 5-6 months.

Phaneuf thanked her colleagues, and everyone she’s served with “for many, many years.” She said she hopes “others step forward to enjoy what I’ve enjoyed.” Chair Lisa Braccio acknowledged the “leadership and the experience that you have brought to this board”. She told her it was one of the reasons that she ran for the office. She told Phaneuf that she admired her dedication and all that she had done.

As for Selectman Shifrin, his term has been much shorter. Shifrin previously served on the Recreation Commision, then was elected in a Special Election in fall 2017. But, as many readers are aware, Shifrin has been battling ALS

Earlier this month, Shifrin told supporters on Facebook:

I wanted to thank you all for your ongoing support. After much thoughtful consideration and discussions with my family I have decided not to run for re-election. I loved being your selectman for the past year and a half. It was a dream for me and I am so grateful to each and everyone of you. Southborough is a special town. I hope to see you around town as I finish up my term and focus on health and family.

Now here is the updated list of who pulled papers for the ballot in May.  [click to keep reading…]


Mindful Art – free after school program for Trottier & Algonquin students

March 22, 2019 08:29:56 AM
Thumbnail image for Mindful Art – free after school program for Trottier & Algonquin students

Southborough Youth and Family Services is inviting Trottier and Algonquin students to enjoy making “Mindful Art”.

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Town Meeting Update: Potential controversies over Library, Open Space, Kallander Field, & PILOTs

March 21, 2019 03:29:21 PM
Thumbnail image for Town Meeting Update: Potential controversies over Library, Open Space, Kallander Field, & PILOTs

The big annual meeting is almost here. Today, I’m highlighting four items up for vote likely to prompt queues at the microphones. There’s info on each worth updating since my past coverage.

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On the market this week in Southborough

March 21, 2019 10:32:05 AM
Thumbnail image for On the market this week in Southborough

What went on and off the market this week.

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Southborough Schools struggling with “intermittent” phone issues

March 21, 2019 09:07:26 AM

If you have a student in Southborough’s public schools, you should be aware by now that the schools have been experiencing more phone issues than usual lately.

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Southborough Gardeners scholarship applications due April 15

March 20, 2019 04:27:39 PM
Thumbnail image for Southborough Gardeners scholarship applications due April 15

The Southborough Gardeners are promoting their annual scholarship program.

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Traffic Alert: Avoid 185 Boston Road area

March 20, 2019 02:52:34 PM
Thumbnail image for Traffic Alert: Avoid 185 Boston Road area

A traffic alert from the Town notified that a section of Boston Road will be “fully closed” this evening. It’s already an area to avoid with one lane closed down.

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Seeking babysitters for Town Meeting – Saturday

March 20, 2019 11:08:18 AM
Thumbnail image for Seeking babysitters for Town Meeting – Saturday

Southborough Recreation is seeking babysitters for the Town Meeting this weekend.

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Steeple Coffeehouse: Vance Gilbert with The Black Feathers – March 30

March 20, 2019 09:21:47 AM
Thumbnail image for Steeple Coffeehouse: Vance Gilbert with The Black Feathers – March 30

This month, the coffeehouse welcomes a performer known for songwriting and storytelling, plus openers known for beautiful harmonies.

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