Attend Town Meeting June 4

May 31, 2018 by

Published in the May 31, 2018 edition

By MAUREEN DOHERTY

NORTH READING — Voters will have their say on the town’s budget at the annual June Town Meeting on Monday, June 4 at 7 p.m. sharp in the Daniel H. Shay Performing Arts Center at NRHS.

Many important decisions will be made by the voters, including finalizing the town’s Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget of $67.9M.

The 40-article warrant was mailed to all households and is also available online on the town’s website, www.northreadingma.gov. New this spring is a series of explanations and definitions added to the warrant to help voters become more familiar and comfortable with the terms used and actions taken at a typical Town Meeting.

The warrant also serves as a report of the town’s current year’s finances by the Finance Committee.

By Town Meeting, voters should know which direction the town will go for its future water needs, Andover or the MWRA, as the Board of Selectmen met after press time on Wednesday night, May 30, to vote on the options available.

The board was directed by the voters at last October’s Town Meeting to work toward entering an agreement with Andover or returning to the previously authorized votes of Town Meeting approving pursuing the MWRA options.

Articles 16 and 17 deal with the borrowing provisions necessary for either option to go forward while Article 18 appropriates funding for water distribution and supply infrastructure.

Highlights of the warrant include the following articles:

Article 14 is the total FY 2019 budget including a school budget of $31.3M, a general government budget of $27.09M, debt service of $7.9M and enterprises of $6.4M for a total budget of $74.8M.

The town’s operating budget includes a request to fully fund the position of Public Safety Administrator for a $30,000 annual stipend and to convert the town’s 9-1-1 dispatch service from uniformed officers to civilian services.

Article 15 is the FY19 capital budget of $2,074,555 to fund multiple town needs.

Article 25 seeks to establish a revolving fund of a maximum of $450,000 to receive and pay out inspectional fees and services related to the development of 102 and 104 Lowell Road (former J.T. Berry property). Pulte Homes bought 104 Lowell Road and is building 450 age-restricted 55 and over units in nine buildings plus a clubhouse over several years while 102 Lowell Road is currently for sale for a potential commercial use through the RFP process.

Articles 27 through 33 relate to home rule petitions for charter amendments. Article 27 would change the title of the “Board of Selectmen” to “Select Board” and change the term “Selectman” to “Select Board Member.”  It was recommended 3-2 by the Selectmen (Prisco, Schultz and Manupelli in favor; O’Leary and Mauceri opposed). Articles 28 and 29 would allow the amendments to the town’s general and zoning bylaws to reflect the name changes in official documents.

Article 30 would change the title of the “Town Administrator” to “Town Manager.” It was recommended 3-2 by the Selectmen (Prisco, Schultz and Manupelli in favor; O’Leary and Mauceri opposed) and does not change the Town Administrator’s duties but the proponents believe it better reflects the role of this position.

At the public hearing held last week on all 40 warrant articles held by the Selectmen, resident Dan Mills asked a tongue-in-cheek question of the board: Could anyone potentially take offense to the term “man”-ager since it contains the word “man?”

Article 32 would seek a change in the Town Charter to allow the date changes in the actual dates that the annual June and October meeting dates are selected. If approved, the first session of the spring annual Town Meeting could be held on any date in June not in conflict with a civic or religious holiday, rather than the first Monday in June. Similarly, the first session of the annual fall Town Meeting in October could be held on any date in October not in conflict with a civic or religious holiday. Currently, both initial sessions are limited to the first available Monday of both months not in conflict with a civic or religious holiday.

The Board of Selectmen will ask to pass over Article 34 which concerns the town’s bylaw requiring businesses to remove snow from their sidewalks. Selectmen Chairman Mike Prisco has told the business community that this matter will be reviewed over the summer with an aim of preparing an article for the October Town Meeting to address both their concerns with the expense and the town’s public safety concerns.

Article 35 seeks to add a new section to the town’s general bylaws to regulate animals kept in kennels consistent with state law.

Article 40 is a citizens’ petition from the residents of Swan Pond Road seeking to share the costs of having their unpaved gravel road paved a distance of 2,700 linear feet from Adams Street to its deadend.

After a lengthy workshop with the residents plus a public hearing, the Board of Selectmen is recommending that $10,000 be appropriated to analyze the drainage needs in the area, which is complicated by the fact that the entire area leads to a drinking water supply (Swan Pond) for the town of Danvers. It was also established that the town could never accept Swan Pond Road as it bisects virtually every lot, which would make those lots legally non-conforming. Additionally, some areas of the road are as narrow as nine feet.

For those residents concerned about the extra distance it takes to get to the Performing Arts Center in comparison to the auditorium at the old school, the town has established a plan to allow senior citizens and those with disabilities to use designated temporary handicapped parking spots that will be set up near the high school’s front entrance. This makes it a much shorter walk to the auditorium than entering from the gymnasium entrance off the rear lot. 

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