Published in the April 29, 2019 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Annual Town Meeting opens at 7 tonight and voters will be asked to consider and vote on 27 warrant articles, including the $100,520,014 FY 2020 town budget. Also, on the warrant are a number of changes to the Town Bylaws proposed by the Bylaw Review Committee.
Article 1 will ask voters to determine how much money the town will raise and appropriate for the FY 2020 town budget. The town budget is traditionally taken up and voted in separate broad categories, including General Government, Protection of Persons and Property, Human Services, Public Works, Public Service Enterprises, Education, Unclassified, Benefits & Administration and Light Department.
Under Article 2, Town Meeting will be asked to vote for $2,140,048 in tax levy-funded Capital Outlay items as recommended by the Capital Outlay Committee. Article 2 also seeks $344,000 from Sewer receipts for Sewer Division Capital Outlay and the sum of $75,500 from Water receipts for Water Division Capital Outlay.
Article 3 will ask voters to approve $4,625,000 for the Capital Projects/Debt Service Fund. This fund is used to make bond payments on money borrowed for capital projects.
Under Article 4, Town Meeting will be asked to authorize the Board of Assessors to use $904,512 from the Municipal Gas and Light Department as the MGLD’s “payment in lieu of taxes” for the period July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.
Article 5 will ask voters to appropriate from tax levy or transfer from available funds $390,000 to implement Phase 2 design improvements and upgrades to the downtown right-of-way corridor, including Main Street from Church Street to Franklin Street, all of Common Street, Albion Street from Main Street to Gould Street, Water Street from Main Street to Shaw’s driveway, Lake Avenue and Spaulding Street and related areas.
Article 6 will ask Town Meeting to raise and appropriate $200,000 to upgrade Blatz Field on Farm Street near the high school by providing fencing, backstops, dugouts and site improvements in order to bring the field up to standards as a varsity high school softball field. Article 6 is co-sponsored by the Town Council and the School Committee.
Under Article 7, Town Meeting voters will be asked to approve $300,000 to supplement the personal services account of the Town Council’s office in order to align the current payroll system with the requirements of state and federal law for the period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
Article 8 seeks $170,000 to supplement the Fire Department budget for the period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
Under Article 9 voters will be asked to approve $30,000 to indemnify certain police officers and firefighters for medical, surgical and hospitalization expenses as a result of injuries received by the officers/firefighters in the performance of their duties.
Voters will be asked under Article 10 to appropriate $700,000 for the purchase of one 1250-gallon permanent pumper truck for use by the Fire Department, and to determine whether to raise this money by borrowing or otherwise.
Article 11 asks Town Meeting to add a line item to the table of revolving funds set forth in Chapter 5, §5 of the General Bylaws by adding a line item for a “Surplus Equipment” revolving fund.
Article 12 seeks to establish a limit of $50,000 on the total amount that may be expended from the Surplus Equipment Revolving Fund in Fiscal Year 2020.
Article 13 is a routine annual article asking Town Meeting to authorize the Town Council to accept, or take by eminent domain proceedings, conveyances or easements from time to time, giving the town the right to construct and maintain drains, sewers, water lines, retaining walls and streets.
Article 14 seeks Town Meeting approval of the $1,996,000 Refuse and Recycling budget for FY 2020.
Article 15 will ask Town Meeting to approve $500,000 for roadway improvements, or to see what the Town will do about it.
Article 16 requests $125,000 for the construction of new sidewalks.
Under Article 17, Town meeting will be asked for $500,000 to fund critical safety, health and environmental repairs to the Public Works Facility located at 35 North Avenue.
Article 18 will ask voters to approve $100,000 to conduct a Public Works Facility Feasibility Study.
Under Article 19 voters will be asked to raise and appropriate from tax levy, by transfer from available funds, or by borrowing the sum of $1,350,000 to make repairs to the Town’s drainage system located on or near Grafton Street, Harrison Avenue and Maple Street, including the design, renovation, upgrading and reconstruction of the culvert located there.
Article 20 will ask Town Meeting to vote to transfer $125,000 from the Water Surplus Reserve Account for replacing and/or replenishing the filter sand at the water treatment facility on Broadway.
Article 21 relates to a roadway betterment project for Flanders Lane, a private way. The $68,000 appropriated for this article would be paid back to the town over 20 years by property owners benefiting from the improvements.
Under Article 22, Town Meeting voters will be asked to accept the provisions of Mass. General Laws Chapter 40U, which relates to the collection of municipal fines for violations of local bylaws requiring landlords to remove snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their buildings. Article 22 would also authorize the Town Council to appoint the hearing officer.
Article 23 is recommended by the Bylaw Review Committee. It asks voters to amend the General Bylaws to define a “Business Day” whenever used in the bylaws as “a day when the Town Hall is open for normal town business.”
Article 24 is also sponsored by the Bylaw Review Committee. It relates to advisory committees for public building projects that would advise the Permanent Building Committee. The advisory committee would be appointed by the body responsible for proposed building (i.e., the School Committee for a school building). The advisory committee would serve as a mechanism to provide input to the Permanent Building Committee.
Fingerprint-based criminal background checks are the subject of Article 25. The goal is to make the local bylaw compliant with the CORI law. Article 25 would also change the timing of recommendations by the Police Chief so that licenses (i.e., liquor licenses) are not withheld after they are approved, pending fingerprint-based criminal background checks.
Article 26 is also recommended by the Bylaw Review Committee. It proposes a new bylaw which would require commercial landlords to register with the town any storefront that is vacant for more than 90 days. The property owner would then have four options: 1) Fill the vacancy; 2) Allow “public art” to be displayed in the space; 3) Pay a $100 quarterly fine to the town; or 4) Request a waiver from the Town Council.
The final article on the Annual Town Meeting warrant, Article 27, is to see if the town will vote to hear the report of the Bylaw Review Committee, accept it as the final report of the committee, and discharge the committee.