Published in the March 15, 2016 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen last night approved the $4,771,310 Department of Public Works budget for FY 2017, which includes an increase of $217,583.
DPW Director Richard Stinson told the selectmen that $74,746 of that increase would go to fund a new position of “Stormwater/Project Manager.”
“The additional staff position is critical if we are to comply with the NPDES permit, implement stormwater system infrastructure improvements, ensure maintenance of systems, address the increasing number of issues related to extreme weather events, ensure compliance with BMPs and provide a safe environment for residents of the community,” Stinson said.
He noted that administration of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is becoming increasingly technical and complex.
The Clean Water Act prohibits anybody (including municipalities) from discharging “pollutants” through a “point source” into a “water of the United States” unless they have an NPDES permit. The permit sets limits on what can be discharged, establishes monitoring and reporting requirements and other provisions to ensure that the discharge does not hurt water quality or people’s health.
Stinson said that the new version of the NPDES permit is even more complex than the old one, adding that the funding of the new Stormwater/Project Manager position would be less expensive than paying the fines that the EPA would levy for non-compliance if some requirement were to be missed.
Another area where the main DPW budget was increased was in the Purchase of Services line item ($12,251).
Stinson said that the Sewer Division budget was up $345,157 to a total of $7,611,000. He noted that the lion’s share of that total was the $5,849,953 assessment to the town from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). That MWRA sewer assessment increased by $229,582, over last year Stinson said.
The Water Division budget increased by $157,433, Stinson said, to a total of $4,505,493. The MWRA assessment portion of the Water Division budget was $1,868,516, up $4,445 from last year.
In addition to the main DPW budget and the Water and Sewer Division budgets, the selectmen also approved a number of Public Works-related Town Meeting articles.
They approved the Refuse and Recycling article at $1,515,000.
Stinson told the board that the town is paying less for refuse and recycling than it was in 2014. The tonnage of refuse collected is down dramatically, Stinson said, while recycling is up 35 percent since 2014.
The selectmen approved an article to appropriate $750,000 for the FY 2017 Snow and Ice Budget. Stinson pointed out that the budget for Snow and Ice removal for a normal winter season is estimated at $1,228,872.
Another article would appropriate $100,000 to implement the NPDES permit. Stinson explained that this money would be used for testing, repairs and other work that the DPW cannot do in-house.
The selectmen approved a $200,000 Town Meeting article to supplement the Chapter 90 funds that come from the state for roadway improvements. Stinson stressed that it was still not enough to maintain the amount of roadwork that should be done annually.
Another $50,000 was approved in an article for new sidewalks. Stinson mentioned Salem Street, Elm Street and Vernon Street as areas in need of new sidewalks. Selectman Patrick Glynn made a motion to increase that amount to $75,000 but later withdrew the motion after Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio said that he would prefer to revisit that number at the fall Regular Town Meeting when the town will have a clearer idea of monies received from the state.
A betterment article for Mount Pleasant Avenue/Everett Street was approved for $251,415.
An article requesting $250,000 to begin Phase 1 of needed upgrades to the Water Treatment Plant on Broadway at Crystal Lake was approved by the selectmen.
An annual article appropriating $1 for eminent domain was also approved.
“The goal of this year’s DPW budget is to ensure that the town’s infrastructure is well-maintained and safe,” Stinson said. “The DPW’s goal is to maintain core services, provide for the health and safety of our residents and staff, maintain our existing infrastructure and allow the department to meet our public safety responsibilities.”
The selectmen voted unanimously to approve the main DPW budget as well as the Water and Sewer Division budgets and the Public Works-related Town Meeting articles. All departmental budgets are also scrutinized by the Finance Committee before going before the voters at Annual Town Meeting in May.