Warrant posted for Annual Town Meeting – March 28th

by beth on March 3, 2020

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If you haven’t already, be sure to save the date for Annual Town Meeting. That opens on Saturday, March 28th at 1:00 pm.

If the action isn’t done at 5:00 pm, the meeting will break for dinner and resume at 7:00 pm. Hopefully, it will be wrapped up by 11:00 pm. Otherwise, it will be adjourned to Monday, March 30th at 7:00 pm. Beyond that, it’s very unlikely to go to a third day. (Though, there is another Town Meeting planned for Fall to tackle some items being pushed off for now.)

The official Warrant has been posted and sent to print. That means, no new Articles can be added to this meeting.

It wouldn’t be unusual for one or two articles to be dropped or “indefinitely postponed” on the floor. It’s also possible for Town officials or voters to come prepared with handouts explaining an amendment they plan to propose. (In fact, at least one funding request will be amended at meeting.) And sometimes impromptu amendments spring out of debates from the floor.

Still, the Warrant is the official outline for what residents will be voting on. I’ve listed the Articles below.

I’m starting with the later Articles – representing new business this year. These are new requests to fund projects and/or proposed bylaw changes. (I’ll be writing more about many between now and the meeting. For those that I’ve already written about, I’ve included links.):

Article 19: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Kallander Field Construction (next step in phased project)

Article 20: Appropriation from CPA Funds – St. Mark’s Church Bell Tower Renovation (Note: Will be amended to increase request to $300,000. I will cover Article in a future post, but you can already read debate among blog commenters here)

Article 21: Adopt MGL to Increase Property Exemptions
Article 22: Amend Town Code – Increase Qualification Period for Appointments
Article 23: Adopt MGL to Reduce Speed Limit in Thickly Settled Areas (dedicated post)
Article 24: Adopt MGL to Designate Safety Zones (dedicated post)
Article 25: Adopt MGL to Implement Local Meals Tax (dedicated post)
Article 26: Amend Town Code – Southborough Public Accessibility Committee
Article 27: Adopt MGL for Saturday Office Hours
Article 28: Amend Town Code – Zoning – Miscellaneous Provisions (dedicated post)
Article 29: Amend Town Code – Zoning – Outdoor Illumination (dedicated posts)
Article 30: Amend Town Code – Zoning – Site Plan Review (dedicated post)
Article 31: Citizen Petition – Amend Town Code: Noise Bylaw (dedicated post)
Article 32: Citizen Petition – Amend Town Code: Reduce Plastic Waste

The first 18 Articles are mainly annual administrative items – plus the operating budgets and some capital expenses: 

Article 1: To Hear Reports
Article 2: Acceptance of Monies from Contributors
Article 3: Borrowing Authorization
Article 4: Authorize Board of Selectmen and Supt: of Schools/Three Year Contracts
Article 5: Amend the Personnel Salary Administration Plan
Article 6: Amend Borrowing Authorization for Public Safety Building Project
Article 7: Fiscal Year 2021 Budget (dedicated posts)
Article 8: Fiscal Year 2021 Water Budget
Article 9: General Government Capital Items (Non-borrowing)  (dedicated posts)
Article 10: General Government Capital Items (Borrowing)  (dedicated posts)
Article 11: Payment to Retirees for Accrued Leave Time
Article 12: Insurance Deductible Account
Article 13: Facilities Maintenance Fund
Article 14: MSBA Project for Finn School Boiler
Article 15: Annual Authorization of Revolving Fund Amounts
Article 16: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Administrative
Article 17: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Debt Payment for Burnett House*
Article 18: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Debt Payment for Library Façade Project*

*Town Meeting previously approved borrowing for CPA projects covered under Articles 17 & 18. These articles are for required annual payments on the bonds.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 n March 4, 2020 at 8:01 AM

How much will property taxes increase at the median if approved as presented?

Reply

2 beth March 4, 2020 at 9:15 AM

The last projections I saw were at a meeting where decisions were made that changed them. The Town has yet to post its budget document. When it does, I will cover that. But, don’t expect a simple answer this year. Things are unusually murky.

The tax impact will partially depend on whether voters approve a new revenue stream – local meals tax. (Yes, it is also a tax. But the idea is that much of it will come from non-residents eating in town. You can read more on that here.)

Even more significant, we won’t know all of our voter-approved expenses for FY21 until the Fall Town Meeting takes place.

The reason for the wait is to allow a committee to take a deeper dive into the queue of capital projects. Advisory recommended making sure the projects make sense in the long term and to see if there were alternative ways to fund some items or cut spending.

You can read more here.

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3 n March 4, 2020 at 10:43 AM

Would someone point me to the BOS or advisory minutes that summarize the budget discussion and expected tax increase if approved as presented?

Or the video of the meeting(s) at which this discussion took place?

How concerned should we be that this has not been disclosed?

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4 beth March 4, 2020 at 2:33 PM

I believe you are jumping the gun on lack of disclosure.

As is normal this time of year, Advisory was still working on their final budget recommendations last week. At last week’s BOS Meeting, selectmen also made a change to the budget just before the Warrant went to print, to reduce an EDC line item. Other than that, the most recent big discussion on the budget is the meeting dedicated to on February 4th meeting. At that meeting, a framework was decided. The Finance team still had to hash out some details.

It is pretty standard that the budget book the Town produces comes out well after the Warrant. Last year the budget book was dated March 14th for the March 23rd Town Meeting.

You can see a draft of the February 4th minutes here and video of the meeting here.

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5 beth March 4, 2020 at 2:40 PM

Sorry. I jumped the gun on one thing in the comment above. I forgot that I didn’t finish watching selectmen’s comments on the EDC line item last week. They didn’t vote to remove it. Instead, they plan to review that at future meeting after talking to the EDC. (And Advisory had yet to vote on their decision.) So, that may be a reduction requested at Town Meeting by them and/or Advisory.

6 n March 4, 2020 at 3:17 PM

appreciating that there may be adjustments, it would be good to know what the proposed tax increase is…

town finance team in the past usually kicks off process with a slide that indicates expected mil rate and median tax burden with comparison to current fiscal year. that slide is then updated throughout the process as budget is updated.

Beth- appreciate what you do with blog. frustration is not with you.

7 Jonas March 4, 2020 at 11:34 AM

What is the latest with the lights for the baseball field at Finn School? We moved to town a few years ago and were excited for the possibility of our kids playing night games. Wasn’t this passed at TM?

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8 Tim March 5, 2020 at 3:22 PM

Hi Jonas – Shoot me an email if you would like more information on this: TDavis@southboroughma.com

Thanks!
Tim
Recreation Director

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9 beth March 4, 2020 at 4:44 PM

That slide was part of the 2/4 presentation. However, the board was making decisions on multiple items within the meeting. In the end, I don’t think the framework that was agreed upon correlated directly to a figure given in that presentation.

Reply

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