Annual Town Meeting passes slightly lowered budget, postpones 14 Articles

Today, Southborough held an Annual Town Meeting we’re not likely to forget. The action took place over the course of three hours on Neary’s athletic fields.

Voters followed the playbook for expediting the meeting. A consent agenda helped quickly passed 11 Articles. Then a couple of quick motions allowed voters to indefinitely postpone 14 more Articles. (Officials have promised to bring them back to a Special Town Meeting.) That left only seven Articles to discuss.

As for the action on those Articles, I’ll get into that on Monday.

In the meantime, here’s the bottom line for taxpayers.

Voters cut close to $56K from a line item in the Town’s Operating Budget. That brings the projected tax rate increase is now 0.77% or $81.56 per average household.*

That could change if the money is added back at the Special Town Meeting. (Stay tuned for an explanation on that and other meeting highlights.)

*Advisory posted the excel version of their recommended budget onto the Town Website. I found the updated figures by plugging in the reduced line item.

Updated (6/13/20 9:16 am): Deleted an out of place line mistakenly left in from an earlier draft.

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3 years ago

I attended the meeting and the part of the budget cut was for the operating expenses of the new public safety building.

Someone asked if this building was LEED certified and the answer was, no.

What I don’t understand is why this building was not built with LEED certification in mind?

3 years ago

I googled this for a clear definition.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

LEED is a great concept but sort of like Energy Star for appliances. Does it really make a difference in environmental design? In a lot of cases it does. But for some it doesn’t always work as well as we want it to given the rigorous engineering, design, construction, AND monitoring process that is involved. It costs extra money to make sure that all LEED elements are built as designed, a whole person/salary can be required to complete this task and it continues well after construction as well as the added design and construction elements.

A non-LEED building is also not always a bad building, just one that didn’t pursue the certification for whatever reasons. The designers of our building knew that utilities would be a significant cost in this type of building given, among other items, the idling engines in large ventilated spaces, the huge shared septic with Woodward, the tower where hoses are dried with heated air, five bay doors open with the AC running…
Since energy savings is a significant part of any LEED certification and we recently discovered at Town Meeting that this new building will cost us far more to operate than was projected, it is reasonable to assume that pursuing LEED certification was never going to be practical.

3 years ago

My understanding was that the budget item that was cut would pay for utility costs for ALL town buildings ( except the schools, I presume ). I really felt that we spent a lot of time on this item unnecessarily. There can really be no discretion in this one unless we decide we’d prefer uncomfortable buildings for our town employees. This is the first full year budget to include the new PS building and the estimate was produced by a hired engineering firm and submitted by the person who is responsible for the management and operations of all our buildings. Regardless of what the actual number is, those bills will be paid. The time to complain and challenge will be next year, when we can see what the actual numbers are. Spending 30 minutes to discuss and complain and challenge numbers that had been put together by people we have hired to create that budget and then to have us arbitrarily cut the number simply because no one liked it was unnecessary.
I was also a bit disappointed in Advisory and B of S for not stepping up and affirming to us that they had seen the numbers during multiple versions of the budget cycle and were as responsible for the budget’s submission as our Ops Manager was. Or maybe they knew that spending time and effort on this one was a year too early.

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