Published May 1, 2019
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The 278 voters who attended Monday’s three-hour Annual Town Meeting session completed work on 10 of the 27 articles on the warrant. Town Meeting resumes at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Galvin Middle School.
After Finance Committee Chairman Daniel Sherman and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio discussed the town’s overall financial picture, Town Meeting got to work on Article 1, the town’s $100,520,014 FY 2020 budget.
The budget was taken up and voted in broad categories, beginning with the $2,423,672 requested for General Government. This portion of the budget funds most Town Hall Departments, including the Town Council, the Treasurer’s Department, the Legal Department, The Tax Collector, the Assessor’s Department, the Town Clerk, Finance Committee, Conservation Department and Planning Board.
Maio said that this portion of the budget was increased by $47,051 over last year. Town Meeting approved the General Government portion of the budget with no discussion.
Maio broke down the various sections of the $12,111,279 budgeted for Protection of Persons and Property, which he said was up $551,029 over last year. The request for the Police Department was $5,947,868. The Fire Department request was for $5,612,860. The request for Fire Alarm, Police Signals and Traffic Lights was $63,515. The amount for Emergency Management was $73,000. The Building Department request was $312,608. The Sealer of Weights and Measures amount was $6,000. The Animal Inspector budget was $83,071. The request for the Parking Clerk was $12,375.
Town Meeting approved the Protection of Persons and Property section of the budget with no discussion.
The Human Services portion of the budget was increased by $1,033 over last year, Maio said, for a total of $853,244. Included in this section was $105,946 for the Recreation Department, $245,508 for the Veterans Department, $245,272 for the Council on Aging and $256,518 for the Health Department. The Human Services portion of the budget passed with no discussion.
The $6,858,201 Public Works budget, reflecting an increase of $233,513, was approved with no discussion from the floor. The self-funded Water Division ($5,589,995) and Sewer Division ($8,627,420) budgets were also approved with no discussion.
Schools’ Superintendent Douglas Lyons presented the $42,046,048 FY 2020 School Department budget, reflecting a 4.75 percent increase over FY 2019. After a brief discussion, Town Meeting approved the budget.
Town Meeting approved the $1,729,791 Library budget with no discussion.
After a brief discussion, Town Meeting approved the Vocational School budget at $1,441,735.
The “Unclassified” budget, approved at $1,714,091, included funding for street lights, the Historical Commission, General Insurance, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance and the Reserve Fund.
The Benefits and Administration budget was up $485,609 (2.9 percent), Maio said, for a total of $17,124,520. The largest single category in this budget was the $11,470,725 Group Insurance line item. Town Meeting approved the budget.
Town Meeting approved various amounts from the Municipal Gas & Light Department to to be transferred to the Group Insurance, Retirement, and Workers’ Compensation accounts to fund WMGLD employees’ portion of those benefits.
Capital Planning Committee chairman Frank Leone presented the FY 2020 Capital Outlay budget. After a brief discussion, Town Meeting approved the tax levy portion at $2,140,048, the Sewer Division capital outlay at $344,000 and Water Division at $75,500.
With no discussion, Town Meeting approved $4,625,000 for the Capital Projects/Debt Service Fund under Article 3.
Under Article 4, voters approved $904,512 from the Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department as a payment in lieu of taxes.
The debate on Article 5 was covered in Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Item.
Town Meeting approved $200,000 to upgrade Blatz Field at the high school under Article 6.
Under Article 7, Town Meeting approved $300,000 from Free Cash to bring the town’s payroll system into alignment with state and federal law.
With no discussion, Town Meeting voted under Article 8 to approve $170,000 to supplement the Fire Department budget for the current fiscal year.
Article 9, voters agreed to appropriate $30,000 to indemnify police officers and firefighters for medical expenses incurred as a result of injuries in the line of duty.
Under Article 10, Town Meeting approved $700,00 for a new 1,250-gallon pumper truck for the Fire Department to replace the current 1996 pumper. The vote was unanimous.
Before adjourning the meeting at at 10 p.m., Town Moderator William Carroll advised that when Town Meeting resumes on Thursday, May 2 at 7 p.m., Articles 22 and 26 will be taken up out of order at the start of the meeting, when Town Counsel Thomas Mullen will be present.
Article 22 relates to fines and enforcement of a bylaw requiring landlords to clear snow on sidewalks adjacent to their property. Article 26 would establish requirements for owners of storefronts with longterm vacancies.