Published in the May 9, 2018 edition


WAKEFIELD — Voters at Monday’s Town Meeting session overwhelmingly approved an $8 million rehab of the Public Safety Building under Article 8, but apparently it’s not over yet.

Yesterday, Dennis Cloherty of Harvest Road went to the Town Clerk’s office and filed a motion for reconsideration of Article 8. Cloherty’s motion for reconsideration is expected to be taken up at tomorrow’s continued Town Meeting session.

According to Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran, the motion to reconsider Article 8 must pass by a two-thirds majority. If the motion to reconsider passes, Article 8 itself will be taken up again and must pass by two-thirds. On Monday, Article 8 passed 168-41, exceeding the required margin.

Town Meeting also handled nine other articles at Monday’s Town Meeting session.

Under Article 3, Town Meeting approved the appropriation of $4,552,000 for the Capital Projects Fund, also known as the Debt Service Fund. This is the account from which bond payments are made when the town borrows money for large capital projects. 

Voters approved Article 4 which will allow the Town to use a payment from the Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department of $891,145 in lieu of taxes.

Under Article 5, Town Meeting approved a collective bargaining agreement between the town and the Beebe Library employees union. The agreement calls for a 1.5 percent cost of living increase every six months over the next three years. The contract also upgrades the Head of Circulation position and the Maintenance Supervisor position. The total cost of the agreement for FY 2019 will be $27,000.

Articles 6 and 7 related to collective bargaining agreements between two other town employee unions. Since both contracts have not yet been settled, the articles were indefinitely postponed.

Under Article 9, Town Meeting approved with no discussion $165,000 to supplement the current year’s Fire Department budget to cover unanticipated overtime costs.

Article 10 concerned a request from the School Department to take $175,000 from the the Special Education Stabilization Fund to cover costs related to unanticipated Special Education costs. School Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith explained that the fund was created several years ago to cover such unpredictable SPED costs. She said that unanticipated out-of-district placements and underfunding from the state resulted in a deficit in the SPED budget. Town Meeting approved Article 10.

Article 11 related to a program that would allow the town to establish a means-tested senior citizen tax exemption. Under the program, seniors who qualify for the state circuit breaker exemption would also be eligible for an equal reduction in their local property taxes. Town Meeting approved Article 11.

Article 12 called for increasing the maximum base amount for calculating cost of living increases for town retirees. Daniel Sherman of the Retirement Board explained that under the public pension system, cost of living increases only apply to a certain amount of a retiree’s pension. For example, in Wakefield, a 3 percent increase would only be calculated on the first $12,000 of a retiree’s pension. (The average Wakefield retiree receives about $28,000 a year.) Sherman explained that the town wanted to increase that base amount for calculating increases to $14,000. Article 12 was approved by Town Meeting.

With about half of the articles on the warrant still remaining, Annual Town Meeting will resume with Article 13 on Thursday, May 10 at 7 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Auditorium at the Galvin Middle School. 

Article 13 is a routine annual article authorizing the Board of Selectmen 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. A $1 appropriation is attached to this article.

DPW Director Richard Stinson will present Article 14, in which Town Meeting is asked to fund the FY 2019 budget for the collection and recycling of refuse. The request will for $1,699,705 from the tax levy for Refuse and Recycling with an additional $112,190 coming from free cash.

Stinson will also discuss Article 15, which seeks $350,000 to supplement Chapter 90 state funds for roadway improvements.

Article 16 is another Public Works-related request asking for $75,000 for new sidewalks.

Under Article 17, Stinson will ask Town Meeting to appropriate $125,000 to replace the DPW’s mobile radio system.

In another Public Works-related article, Article 18, $165,000 will be requested for Water Main improvements.

Under Article 19, Town Meeting will be asked to authorize the Board of Selectmen to enter into a 99-year lease with the MBTA for a portion of the abandoned railroad bed that is anticipated to be part of a future “Rail Trail” project.

Article 20 increases many of the fees charged by the Zoning Board of Appeals for applications for variances, special permits and other functions.

Articles 21-25 relate to recommended changes to the town’s General Bylaws put forth by the Bylaw Review Committee.

Article 21 removes some chapters of the General Bylaws that have become redundant or obsolete. In some cases, they are now covered in the Town Charter or by state law. The recommended changes in Article 21 also codify certain current practices, such as allowing Town Counsel to hire outside counsel when needed and allowing Town Counsel to work with the School Department. 

Article 22 makes minor changes to various bylaws. It will allow certain notices now sent out to residents on paper to be sent by email, as long as there is confirmation of receipt. It also makes changes to the chapter related to the Town Report, bringing it in line with current practices and adding references to Veterans Services and the Human Rights Commission.

Article 23 deals with bylaw matters related to governance. It updates the procedure for filling vacancies on the Finance Committee. It also changes the composition of the Permanent Building Committee to include six consistent members and three members appointed for each specific building project. The third article also makes language changes related to quorums, meeting minutes and attendance requirements for appointed boards. In the latter case, a member of an appointed board who misses five consecutive meetings would be removed from the committee. Also clarified are the purposes of each appointed board and the process to be followed at public hearings.

Article 24 calls for changes to Chapter 104, related to animals. It makes biting in public an explicit violation and permits off-leash areas in designated dog parks.

Article 25 relates to snow and ice removal. The current snow and ice by-law (Chapter 175-8) was deemed to be ineffective. The proposed new snow and ice bylaw will require commercial properties and large multi-family dwellings (more than four units) throughout Wakefield to clear snow, ice and slush from the public sidewalks abutting their property. It changes the fines to $200 per offense and expands enforcement to include both the Police and Department of Public Works.