Published June 6, 2019
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
NORTH READING — No, you did not miss it. Town Meeting, sometimes called the Greatest Show on Earth, was not held on the first Monday in June as in past years. It will be held next Monday, June 10 at 7 p.m. in the Daniel H. Shay Performing Arts Center at NRHS.
It was moved so as not to conflict with another major town event — the Grand March of the Senior Prom – which is always held on the first Monday in June at the high school to kick off Senior Week for the graduates. Action taken by voters at the June 2018 Town Meeting enabled this change to be made to the Town Charter to enable greater flexibility in setting the dates for both the spring and fall Town Meetings.
Many important decisions will be made by the voters Monday, including finalizing the town’s Fiscal Year 2020 operating budget of $75,327,997, which is an increase of 3.4% over FY19, but it also includes $6,104,877 from the combined enterprise accounts of the Hillview and Park and Recreation, which are significantly self-funded through fees.
This number has fluctuated from an earlier presentation made at the Select Board meeting last month prior to the warrant going to print which had totaled $70,505,134.
In the most current summary of Article 15, as recommended by both the Select Board and the Finance Committee, the $75,327,997 breaks down as follows:
• Gen. government: $28,727,875
• Education: $32,488,977
• Debt service: $8,006,267
• Enterprises: $6,104,877
The town’s share of state Chapter 90 highway funds is expected to be $516,073 to put toward ongoing road improvement projects in town.
According to Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto, the FY20 operating budget would add more inspectors in the Building and Health Departments to better meet demand for services due to increased economic activity.
The budget also responds to the need for more human services to benefit the public such as additional hours for the town’s public health nurse and more hours for an outreach worker with the Elder Services department and to provide more administrative support for veterans services.
Under Article 16, the town will seek $2.9M in capital improvements as recommended by the Capital Improvement Planning Committee (CIPC). It will be funded by nearly $1M in free cash, $1.6M in borrowing and $361K from the ambulance enterprise.
The bulk of these funds will go to roadways ($1M plus $500K in Chap. 90 funds); $325K to design and construct drainage up upper Elm Street between Washington Street and Haverhill Street.
Other uses will include $94K for an active shooter simulator for the police department; $176K for repairs to Flint Memorial Library and $60,000 for the Chromebooks 1:1 device purchases for students, to be supplemented by a potential state grant once again.
Plastic bag ban
One proposal under Article 27 could potentially get heated but it may not get off the ground either. Flip a coin. It is a proposal to ban thin film so called single-use plastic bags at the point of service, such as grocery stores.
By a 3-2 vote, the Select Board voted to support the change to the town’s general bylaws, with Stephen O’Leary, the original proponent, in favor of it. He was joined by Chairwoman Kate Manupelli and board member Rich Wallner, Voting in opposition to the measure were Andy Schultz and Liane Gonzalez.
The proposal bylaw change is a compilation of many similar bans from other communities. It includes a fee structure for violators of a warning on first offense; a $50 fine on second offense and $100 fine on third offense.
However, it is possible that the Board of Health will request the voters opt to pass over the measure so that they can have more time to review it and make their own suggestions.
The Select Board will also recommend passing over Article 28 to make changes to the Planned Unit Development zoning bylaw for multi-unit housing options. The PUD is the bylaw under which The Greens was developer about 35 years ago. The potential change was in response to possibly giving the town an alternative to the higher density 40B proposal for the former driving range area of the Thomson CC.
Under Article 26, voters will be asked to approve a change in lease terms for golf carts at the Hillview to exceed the three years currently established under state law. The Hillview Commission would like it changed to five years.