Upcoming Town Meeting articles: Drainage for country road, sticker for swap shop and recycling, repairs for tennis courts and much more

by beth on March 5, 2015

The Annual Town Meeting is approaching. (Monday, April 13 may seem a ways away. But not if you’re one of the people working to get your article in front of the voters.)

Yesterday, I shared the Town Administrator’s recommended budget. What I didn’t mention is that his report also includes a preview of the articles up for vote this spring.

This isn’t the official warrant, so it’s just an overview of “notable” articles. In addition to the mandatory annual articles, the report listed twelve more to expect.

Four articles are being brought to voters via citizen’s petition:

  • Clifford Street Drainage: This is a citizen’s petition that seeks funding authorization to improve the “country road” drainage challenges between 18 and 28 Clifford Street by installing a formal drainage system and to crown and re-pave that section of Clifford Street.
  • Special Transfer Station Sticker: This is a citizen’s petition that requests the creation of a special sticker allowing admittance only to the swap shop, recycling bins, and the can & bottle bins at the transfer station for the cost of $25.00 per year.
  • Automated and searchable correspondence between Boards and Committees. (Look for more on this and the discussion at this week’s Board of Selectman meeting in a future post.)
  • Additional Alcohol License for Stony Brook Market

Articles sponsored by Town committees are:

    • Pay and Class Study: Would ask for adjustments to any positions outside the final recommended ranges of recent salary review of Salary Administration Plan employees. (Read past coverage.)
    • Restoration of four tennis courts. Funding would come from the Community Preservation Fund. Four courts would be repaired and restored with warranties. (One is behind Finn School and three are by Neary School.)
    • An amendment to the Town Code would set guidelines for demolition delays. (See past coverage.)
    • The Recreation Commission proposes to replace the lighting at the Mooney and Choate Fields. (See past coverage.)

  • The Facilities Department is requesting an amount for its maintenance fund. This is the fund used to address planned maintenance projects for Town’s facilities.
  • Articles for capital budget items. In addition to the capital budget, there are two articles for capital items that are not on a regular replacement schedule. Items listed below as A-H would be paid for by available funds. The replacement engine (item I) would be paid for by bonding through the Ambulance Fund.

 

town_capital_budget_article_requests

  • A request to transfer to Stabilization Fund. This is a backup measure if the capital budget article isn’t approved.
  • Transferring an amount from the current year Benefits budget to an article for Health Reimbursement Account funding.

Not listed in the report, but approved by Selectmen on February 24th, is an article for voters to request state legislators approve a long-term lease for 9-11 field. (See past coverage.)

To see the full report, click here. In the report, TA Mark Purple encourages residents to reach out to him with any questions:

Please feel free to contact my office with any questions you might have, as it is in everyone’s best interest that residents feel fully informed before we get to Town Meeting on April 13, 2015. I can be reached at 508-485-0710, x3002, or at mpurple@southboroughma.com.

1 Beth D March 5, 2015 at 10:00 PM

Does anyone know any more information regarding the Special Transfer Station Sticker? It hardly seems fair that people would be allowed to use most of the facility while paying so little for that privilege. I work hard to make sure I recycle properly. I throw very few bags per year into the hopper. I don’t see how $25 could be a fair price for the use of what is proposed.

2 beth March 6, 2015 at 9:36 AM

I don’t have details at this point, but would welcome them. (Anyone who does can email mysouthborough@gmail.com.)

I do have some figures I believe relevant to any discussion of fee structures.

Earlier this year, the Public Works Planning Board report classified the Transfer Station’s expenses:
* 41% of Transfer Station expenses are for disposal costs. (I believe that is for waste. I don’t believe there are fees for disposing of the recycled goods.)
* Another 40% are for labor & benefits.
* The remaining expenses were listed as capital (9%), departmental (4%), and misc (4%).

The current annual sticker fee (for non-seniors) is $200-$250 (depending on when & how you bought the sticker). Of course, that could change for next year.

The BOS votes on the fees and policies annually in May/June for adoption in September. The PWPB recommended the BOS consider fully funding resident fees through property taxes.

Selectmen didn’t seem eager to adopt the suggestion, but tabled that discussion until late spring. (http://www.mysouthborough.com/2015/01/23/public-works-board-discards-pay-as-you-throw-but-recommends-recycling-made-easier/)

3 Al Hamilton March 6, 2015 at 10:32 AM

I am not sure if $25 is the right number but a solid majority of the costs associated with the transfer station are properly allocated to the stuff some people put in the “Pit”

My understanding is that the stuff we recycle is hauled away at little or no cost to the town and in some cases (scrap metal) it is a modest money maker. There clearly are labor costs associated with the recycling area and those should be accounted for. But, on the other hand, there are more labor and capital costs associated with “The Pit”

There are a number of people who have private haulers who deal with their trash who still use the recycling area because it is a good service and you can responsibly dispose of a large number of items. Those folks are in effect subsidizing those who use “The Pit”.

The net result of adopting this type of system is that those who dispose of their trash in “The Pit” would probably have to pay more.

I do suspect that $25 is a bit on the low side for the recycling service.

4 Beth D March 7, 2015 at 8:29 AM

I would like to respectfully dissgree with the word “subsidizing.” A subsidy is a grant, not a purchase. If someone chooses to make a purchase and then utilize only a portion of that purchase, that is a personal choice. One can not order a meal at a restaurant, eat only part of that meal and then expect to only pay for the portion they chose to eat. And the restaurant could not then tell the other patrons that they must pay for the rest of that meal.

5 Beth D March 6, 2015 at 11:13 AM

I believe there are hidden costs,
ie; There are things left in the swap that are of no interest to anyone and ultimately end up in the hopper. What’s going to stop someone with a “special sticker” from putting anything at all in swap shack? It’s someone’s job to clean it out, so there is a cost attached to that.
Likewise, someone has to be paid to monitor the recycling bins. With more people utilizing them, more work will be created.
I’m not against the “special sticker” altogether, but the cost should be more realistic.

6 southsider March 6, 2015 at 12:55 PM

My initial impression: I agree with Beth D.
A different sticker with different privileges just creates a new enforcement challenge for those working the TS.
Could we really prevent abuse ( i.e. using the remaining facilities ) once the person is granted access?

7 southsider March 6, 2015 at 1:02 PM

More than $300k for Town House windows seems to be a very large spend.
Would it cost that much more to stagger the work and the spend over two or three years? I’d assume we’d get pretty deeply discounted pricing for any $100k or $150k job of this nature.
Or maybe there’s been some work done that discusses the savings we’d enjoy in heating or air conditioning costs with better windows?

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