Town Meeting 2018: Summarizing the Warrant

by beth on March 16, 2018

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The Town has published the official Warrant for the Annual Town Meeting. Here’s an updated overview of what’s up for a vote.

All of the articles this year are proposed by the Town, not citizens.

Voters will be asked to weigh in on funding some items I’ve already covered: Rec fields, keeping the Golf Course open, and a Senior Center Feasibility Study. I’ve also written about a potential change to the zoning appeals process.

Items that I’ve yet to delve into, include purchasing 30 acres of open space, projects to restore the Old Burial Ground and the Library’s historic facade, accepting a property in lieu of taxes, and the process to reconsider articles. (Don’t worry, I’ll get into those before the April 9th meeting.)

What didn’t make this year’s Warrant was revisiting adopting a Town Manager government model. The majority of Selectmen determined they needed more time to examine the pros and cons and hear from residents. They agreed working on that would be one of their priorities in FY19. (Another priority will be examining whether the Transfer Station should continue to be co-funded by taxes or fully user-funded.)

Below are Articles’ official summaries and the positions taken (or not) by the Board of Selectmen and Advisory Committee.*

I’m not bothering with details on the articles that represent what I see as pro forma authorizations, legal formalities, and administrative issues. (Though, you can scroll down for that list.) But, because there was so much controversy over last year’s Salary Administration Plan, I’m including information on that.

And given, recent discussions about long term planning and the Capital Plan, I am including this year’s list of capital expenses.

I’ve previously written about the Town’s proposed FY19 Operating Budget. Article 7 of the Warrant lists individual budgets, not a summed total. But the Town has posted its “Budget Book” reporting the figure as $57,025,529. You can also dig into the nitty gritty with explanations from each department/board there.

Now, here’s my overview of the 2018 Warrant:

Article 5: Amend the Personnel Salary Administration Plan

Summary: The Personnel By-Law governs policies and pay structures for non-union employees. The changes are noted in bold.

[Editor’s Note: Last year, voters didn’t support revisions to the SAP due to concerns about lack of communication and possible under-vetting of the impacts of edits. This year, one of last year’s outspoken critics stepped up to the volunteer on the Personnel Board. Betsy Rosenbloom helped present this year’s changes to BOS and Advisory. This year, the board is sharing redlined changes in advance and an explanatory summary.]

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 8: General Government Capital Items

A. MIS – Private Fiber Line to Cordaville Road $ 30,000
B. MIS – Upgrade Library Phone System $ 8,000
C. Facilities – Replace Air Compressor Unit $ 12,500
D. Library – Engineering for Drainage/Waterproofing $ 15,000
E. Facilities – Town House ADA updates $ 25,000
F. DPW – Replace Transfer Station trailer $ 55,000
G. DPW – Sidewalk Plow/Snowblower/Sweeper $ 160,000
H. DPW – Replace Radio System $ 165,000
I. Repaving of Town House Parking Lot $ 150,000
J. DPW – Road Maintenance $ 400,000
K. Emergency Management – Message Board $ 14,500

Proposed by Board of Selectmen; Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 14: Feasibility Study/Design for Senior Center Renovation

Summary: This article will provide the funds needed for the purposes of site investigations, site plans, floor plans, exterior building elevations, preliminary designs, and the preparation of construction documents to be used in the examination of the feasibility of constructing additional bathrooms and a small meeting/recreational activity space at the Southborough Senior Center.

Proposed by Board of Selectmen; Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 15: Southborough Golf Club – Capital Restorations

Summary: This article is necessary to fund golf course restoration and repair expenses, to ensure continuity of play during the construction of the Public Safety Facility.

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 16: Recreation Facilities – Repairs to Depietri & Kallander Fields, Trottier School Track

Summary: This funding is needed to implement recommended repairs on recreational facilities as identified within the Facilities Master Study bringing the town’s fields and track to an acceptable playing status. Lack of drainage on most fields including Depietri and Kallander and the inability to rest them has largely contributed to their current sub-optimal states. By completing these repairs, the town will be positioned to start the appropriate cycle of resting fields when needed and maintain their quality.

A. This will fund repairs to Depietri Field located in front of Neary School. Repairs include grading, sodding, and the installation of drainage and irrigation.
B. This will fund repairs to Kallander Field located on Kallander Drive off of Rt. 30. Repairs include grading, sodding, parking lot surfacing, drainage and irrigation improvements.
C. The Trottier Track is heavily used by residents, schools and youth sports, and the surface continues to deteriorate. This will fund the replacement of the synthetic track surface.

Positions – BOS at Town Meeting; Advisory broke out positions – Support A; at Town Meeting B; Not Support C

Article 17: Recreation Facilities – Neary School Turf Field Design and Permitting

Summary: This will fund design work and permits for the installation of a synthetic turf field on town-owned property located at Neary School. The turf could be used for multiple purposes including a full size baseball and soccer field increasing field availability, and supporting the town’s ability to move to an appropriate cycle of resting fields. This article allows the Recreation Commission to begin the planning process with design, permitting fees and validation of total project cost.

Positions – BOS at Town Meeting; Not Supported by Advisory

Article 18: Recreation Facilities – Lundblad Field Design and Consulting

Summary: Lundblad Fields located on Parkerville Road in front of Neary School offers a large space that can support multiple fields. As Lundblad is built over a former landfill, specialized consultation is needed prior to moving forward with the field repair projects recommended in the Facilities Master Study. This will fund research and design work including investigation of the membrane and other aspects of the property.

Positions – BOS at Town Meeting; Advisory Not Support

Article 21: Accept Deed of Conveyance for 0 Kimberly Lane

Summary: This article authorizes the Town to accept a deed in lieu of tax foreclosure. State law allows municipalities to accept deeds in lieu of foreclosure due to the expense and time required to file formal tax foreclosures thru Land Court. These two parcels are open space and non-buildable lots that have had a tax lien on them since 2001. The owner is voluntarily conveying these parcels which is a requirement per State law.

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 25: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Restoration of Old Burial Ground

Summary: This article would fund the historic preservation of gravestones and monuments in the historic Old Burial Ground of Southborough. Proposed by the Southborough Historical Commission, this grant request would be used to hire a conservator to undertake restoration work at the Old Burial Ground. The Old Burial Ground (1730- 1898) is one of the earliest enterprises by the newly incorporated Town of Southborough, and forms a significant part of Southborough’s institutional focus at the heart of the town center. Once the restoration has been completed, any future damage to stones and memorials, and including trees will be covered by the DPW budget. This project will be overseen by the Southborough Historical Commission.

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 26: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Library Facade Restoration Project

Summary: This article will provide for a building and site related assessment to preserve the Southborough Public Library, an historic structure that is one of the oldest and most used municipal buildings in Southborough. The study will result in a conditions assessment and prioritized list of treatment recommendations to guide that effort. All of the recommended work will comply with the building and Architectural Access Board codes as applicable, the historic district review requirements, and The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. This project will be overseen by the Southborough Library Trustees.

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 27: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Acquisition of 0 Rockpoint Road

Summary: Project proponents are the Board of Selectmen; this article will allow the town to purchase over 30 acres of land identified as a top priority parcel in our Open Space and Recreation Plan, and designated as a highest priority for wildlife habitat protection in the survey done by Mass Audubon, while providing passive recreation opportunities on the existing system of trails traversing the beautiful woodlands. Using the best estimate available, it will provide funds to cover legal and acquisition costs as required by CPA legislation.

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 28: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Golf Course CR Endowment and Costs

Summary: Project proposed by the Board of Selectmen, this Article uses the best estimates available to provide funds to cover the endowment and other associated costs to finalize the Conservation Restriction on the Southborough Golf Club as required by March 8, 2017 Town Meeting Vote to purchase the land.

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 29: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Golf Course Parking Lot and Restoration

Summary: This article will allow the Town to restore the golf course to a visually appealing, playable condition and preserve the recreational opportunity provided by the course. It also preserves existing historic open vistas, natural habitat and passive recreation opportunities. In addition, this article will allow the Town to construct a parking area and retaining wall. This project is needed because construction of the new Public Safety Building will effectively end golf course operations unless funds are allocated to restore the course to the appropriate playing state for future potential. Continued golf course operation is required under Warrant Article 1 of the March 8, 2017 Special Town Meeting, which passed with more than 90% of Town Meeting attendees voting in favor. An owner’s project manager under the supervision of the Golf Course Committee will be chosen to oversee the project.

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 30: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Audubon Program for the Golf Course

Summary: The USGA sponsored Audubon International Classic Program is a prestigious designation that will assist in promotion of the course as a destination for golfers while providing beneficial guidance to the Golf Management Company and the Holders of the Conservation Restriction (CR) on Best Environmental Management Practices in renovations and running the Golf Course. The Classic Program will assist in development of the Management Plan required in the CR, reducing costs to the town in developing the Plan.

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 31: Acceptance of Coslin Way and Washington Street as a Public Way

Summary: This action is required to make the “new” location of Washington Street and a portion of Coslin Drive in Southborough public ways, and to discontinue the former locations of Washington Street as shown on the plans on file with the Town Clerk. The new location of Washington Street and the portion of Coslin Drive to be accepted as public ways have been constructed and completed by EMC Corporation in accordance with subdivision plans approved by the Planning Board in 2008. This configuration routes Washington Street into Coslin Drive in Southborough. The motion for this article requires 2/3 majority vote.

Positions – Supported by BOS and Advisory

Article 32: Amend Article III of Zoning Code – Appeal Process

Summary: This article deletes inter-agency appeal of a Planning Board decision on site plan review by the Zoning Board of Appeals. This process is contrary to the standard for judicial review which is the norm under zoning appeals.

Positions – BOS at Town Meeting, Supported by Advisory [Vote was reconsidered after printing of the Warrant.]*

Article 33: Amend Town Code – Eliminate Reconsideration of a Vote

Summary: This article eliminates the ability to reconsider an article at Town Meeting, once the article has been properly disposed of by Town Meeting.

Positions – BOS at Town Meeting, Not Supported by Advisory

Article 34: Amend Town Code – Motion to Reconsider a Vote

Summary: This by-law change clarifies a reconsideration of vote procedure at the Town Meeting.

Positions – BOS at Town Meeting, Supported by Advisory

Below is the list of additional Warrant Articles that I didn’t detail above:

  • 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 6: Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Transfers
  • Article 9: Insurance Deductible Account
  • Article 10: Payment to Retirees for Accrued Leave Time
  • Article 11: Fund to Hire Consultants and Engineers
  • Article 12: Facilities Maintenance Fund
  • Article 13: Payment of FY17 Outstanding Invoice
  • Article 19: Amend Town Code – Revolving Funds
  • Article 20: Annual Authorization of Revolving Fund Amounts
  • Article 22: Acceptance of MGL to Update Senior Tax Exemption
  • Article 23: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Administrative
  • Article 24: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Debt Payment for Burnett House
  • Article 35: Amend Town Code – Consent Agenda for Town Meeting Warrant
  • Article 36: Establish Regional School Stabilization Fund

For the full Warrant, click here to open the pdf. You can find more details about the Town Meeting on the Town’s website, here.

Updated (3/21/18 10:06 am): I had reversed Articles 35 & 36 in the list.

*Updated (4/3/18 10:00 am): Prior to the positions being printed on the Warrant, the Advisory Committee voted in opposition of Article 32. Advisory Chair Adrian Peters was one of two abstentions, saying they needed more information. He encouraged members to watch the Planning Board’s hearing on the Article. Last night, he called for reconsideration of the vote, pointing out that four members hadn’t voted (since two were absent). After more discussion and comments, including disagreement over whether the vote should be reconsidered, the board voted in favor. But the end vote was actually 5 in favor and 4 opposed. That highlights that other “positions” above may represent similarly split opinions.

Updated (4/5/18 12:46 pm): In the above update, I accidentally referred to Peters as the ZBA Chair instead of Advisory Chair.

1 Jessica Devine March 20, 2018 at 11:09 AM

This is really helpful, Beth! Thanks!

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