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October 24, 2016 Town Meeting Results

by Eric Niermeyer
October 25, 2016

Holliston's annual Special Town Meeting began on Monday night after a quorum of 100 registered voters was reached.  The proposed Articles and results are listed below in their entirety as is a summary of any relevant discussion that took place:

Capital Spending
In FY09 the Finance Committee initiated an ongoing annual commitment to fund $350,000 per
year for capital purchases. It has increased annually since FY13 and now stands at $800,000 in
FY17. Although capital purchases are usually approved at the Special Town Meeting, due to
seasonal issues several capital purchases were approved in May totaling $661,807, with
$293,807 for the DPW, $215,000 for the Board of Selectmen (senior center and golf course),
$125,000 for the school department, and $28,000 for the Conservation Commission. This left
$138,193 remaining for allocation in October. The Committee reviewed capital proposals and
decided to supplement capital funding with some of the Free Cash in order to meet some of the
requests.
The Committee evaluated each capital proposal and is recommending the following capital
expenditures:
· Replacement of two Police Department cruisers $ 84,928
· Boiler replacement at the Library $ 35,000
· Replacement of a brush fire truck for the Fire Department $ 85,000
· Replacement of network equipment and large format printer at Town Hall $ 12,525
· Replacement of radio equipment for the Fire Department $175,000
· Replacement of ambulance for Emergency Medical Services $255,000
· Replacement of DPW-Water department vehicles $108,012
· Replacement of Police radio repeater $ 20,100
· Replacement of dump truck/plow for DPW-Highway $ 50,500
· Replacement of tree chipper for DPW-Highway $ 66,975
· Nexus 7 tablets for the School Department $ 7,470
· Music Lab software for the School Department $ 20,000
· Interactive board technology for the School Department $ 23,265
· Security devices for the School Department $ 15,000
Total $958,775
Of the $958,775 total amount recommended, $734,763 is funded from the Capital Expenditure
Fund, with $108,012 from the Water Surplus and $116,000 from the closure of the Ambulance
revolving fund. With these actions and the additional funds from Free Cash there will be a net
addition of $1 million to the Capital Expenditure Fund. The ending balance in the fund will be
over $2.3 million, a level considered acceptable by the Finance Committee in light of potential
large expenditures on the horizon.
The Finance Committee has been working with the new Town Administrator to improve
Holliston’s capital planning and to create a more comprehensive Capital Plan. The Finance
Committee will continue to work with the Town Administrator and the Board of Selectmen as
needed to further this effort since a robust capital plan is essential to proper financial planning
for the town’s future capital needs.
Warrant Articles
The Finance Committee recommendations appear with each article in the warrant.
Recommendations of note include:
· Adjustments to the Reserve Fund budget to prepare for anticipated cuts to local aid
(Article 1);
· Appropriation of Free Cash for various purposes (Articles 2, 3, and 6);
· Capital recommendations outlined above (Article 5);
· Appropriation from the Water Surplus for water main replacement (Articles 7 and 8);
As always, the Finance Committee is indebted to the many Town officials and employees whose
efforts make this process and report possible. We also would like to commend the other elected
and appointed committees with whom the Finance Committee interacts on an ongoing basis for
all their cooperative efforts. We would like to give special thanks to our secretary Nancy Farrell
whose support through our many meetings was vital to our success.

ARTICLE 1: FISCAL YEAR 2017 BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS
SPONSORED BY: Board of Selectmen
To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds a sum of
money for the purpose of supplementing various accounts for the Town’s Fiscal Year 2017
annual budget, previously voted by the Town under Article 14, of the Warrant for 2016 Annual
Town Meeting or to take any action relative thereto.
Board of Selectmen Vote: 3-0
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS THAT THE TOWN RAISE AND
APPROPRIATE $100,000 AND APPROPRIATE $100,000 FROM FREE CASH FOR THE
“OTHER FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION/RESERVE FOR TRANSFERS” ACCOUNT
(UNANIMOUS)

- Article 1 Passed Unanimously 


ARTICLE 2: STABILIZATION FUND
SPONSORED BY: Board of Selectmen
To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds a sum of
money for the Stabilization Fund; or take any action relative thereto.
Board of Selectmen Vote: 3-0
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS THAT THE TOWN APPROPRIATE THE
SUM OF $150,000 FROM FREE CASH FOR THE STABILIZATION FUND
(UNANIMOUS).

- Article 2 Passed Unanimously 


ARTICLE 3: CAPITAL EXPENDITURE FUND
SPONSORED BY: Board of Selectmen
To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds a sum of
money for the Capital Expenditure Fund; or take any action relative thereto.
Board of Selectmen Vote: 3-0
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS THAT THE TOWN APPROPRIATE $1
MILLION FROM FREE CASH FOR THE CAPITAL EXPENDITURE FUND
(UNANIMOUS). Note: The Finance Committee expects to raise this amount to $1,596,570
prior to Town Meeting once Free Cash is certified.

- Article 3 Passed Unanimously


ARTICLE 4: SALE OF SURPLUS EQUIPMENT
SPONSORED BY: Board of Selectmen
To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to hold a public auction and or
sale for the purpose of disposing of surplus departmental equipment; or take any action relative
thereto.
Board of Selectmen Vote: 3-0
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS FAVORABLE ACTION (UNANIMOUS)

- Article 4 Passed Unanimously 


ARTICLE 5: CAPITAL BUDGET
SPONSORED BY: Board of Selectmen
To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds or borrow a
sum of money for the purpose of capital expenditures, including replacement of old vehicles and
equipment, for the following departments: Police, Schools, Fire, Technology, DPW (Highway),
DPW (Water), Library, Ambulance and authorize the Board of Selectmen to trade or sell
equipment toward part of the purchase price; or take any action relative thereto.

In FY09 the Finance Committee initiated an ongoing annual commitment to fund $350,000 per
year for capital purchases. It has increased annually since FY13 and now stands at $800,000 in
FY17.


Project Department Amount Funding Source
Boiler Replacement Library $35,000 Capital Expenditure Fund
Ambulance Ambulance $255,000 Ambulance Revolving /
Capital Expenditure Fund
Brush Truck Fire $85,000 Capital Expenditure Fund
Radio Equipment Fire $175,000 Capital Expenditure Fund
Fiber Network Equipment I/T $5,810 Capital Expenditure Fund
Printer/Scanner for Maps I/T $6,715 Capital Expenditure Fund
Police Radio Repeater Police $20,100 Capital Expenditure Fund
Two (2) Police SUV’s Police $84,928 Capital Expenditure Fund
Dump Truck & Plow DPW (Highway) $50,500 Capital Expenditure Fund
Chipper Machine DPW (Highway) $66,975 Capital Expenditure Fund
1 Pick-Up Truck & Plow DPW (Water) $54,006 Water Surplus
1 Pick-Up Truck & Plow DPW (Water) $54,006 Water Surplus
Nexus 7 tablets Schools $7,470 Capital Expenditure
Music Lab software Schools $20,000 Capital Expenditure
Interactive board technology Schools $23,265 Capital Expenditure
Classroom Security System Schools $15,000 Capital Expenditure Fund
Total: $974,775
Board of Selectmen Vote: 3-0
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS (1) THAT THE TOWN APPROPRIATE
THE FOLLOWING AMOUNTS FROM THE CAPITAL EXPENDITURE FUND: $35,000
FOR BOILER REPLACEMENT AT THE LIBRARY, $109,000 FOR AN AMBULANCE,
$85,000 FOR A BRUSH TRUCK, $175,000 FOR RADIO EQUIPMENT, $5,810 FOR
NETWORKING EQUIPMENT, $6,715 FOR A PRINTER/SCANNER, $20,100 FOR A
POLICE RADIO REPEATER, $84,928 FOR TWO POLICE VEHICLES, $50,500 FOR A
DUMP TRUCK WITH PLOW, $66,975 FOR A CHIPPER, $7,470 FOR NEXUS 7 TABLETS,
$20,000 FOR MUSIC LAB SOFTWARE, $23,265 FOR INTERACTIVE BOARD
TECHNOLOGY, AND $15,000 FOR SCHOOL SECURITY DEVICES; (2) THAT THE
TOWN APPROPRIATE $116,000 FROM THE AMBULANCE REVOLVING FUND FOR
AN AMBULANCE; AND (3) THAT THE TOWN APPROPRIATE $108,012 FROM WATER
SURPLUS FOR TWO PICK-UP TRUCKS WITH PLOWS. (UNANIMOUS)

- Martha Devoe noted that there were differences between what was on Article 5 in the warrant and what was verbally read aloud at the meeting and asked for clarification.

- Finance Committee Chair Kenneth Szajda then detailed minor adjustments that were made to the Capital proposals at the last minute to accommodate changes by the Finance Committee, including additional funding for the Rail Trail.

- Michelle Heffernan   asked for further clarification regarding funding for water infrastructure and its effects on the Article; Mr. Szajda again responded to the question.

- Article 5 Passed Unanimously

 

Before Article 6 Mr. Szajda gave the assembled residents a brief update on Holliston's fiscal situation.  His overarching message was that town is in a fairly good fiscal state due to sound budgetary practices.  However, due to an expected decrease in state-level aid, the Finance Committee concluded that the responsible thing to do is postpone Article 6 indefinitely. 

ARTICLE 6: FUND TRANSFER TO AFFECT THE TAX RATE
SPONSORED BY: Board of Selectmen
To see if the Town will vote to transfer from available funds a sum of money for the purpose of
reducing the amount of money to be raised through property taxes for Fiscal Year 2017; or take
any action relative thereto.
Board of Selectmen Vote: 3-0
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS INDEFINITE POSTPONEMENT
(UNANIMOUS)

- Article 6 Passed Unanimously


ARTICLE 7: WATER MAIN AND PRESSURE BOOSTER STATION DESIGN AND
REPLACEMENT FOR CEDAR STREET, TURNER ROAD, AND CHERYL LANE
SPONSORED BY: Board of Selectmen
To see if the Town will vote to appropriate from Water Surplus, Water Infrastructure Account,
$68,000 for engineering design and tasks related to replacement of approximately 5,300 linear
feet of water mains in Cedar Street, Turner Road and Cheryl Lane. The scope of this project
includes new water mains, valves, hydrants, service connections, hydraulic determination to
identify a suitable replacement site for the Cedar Street booster station, topographical survey of a
potential site and preparation of a booster station, drawings and specifications for a factory
assembled station and related work in Cedar Street, Turner Road, and Cheryl Lane; or to take
any action relative thereto.
Board of Selectmen Vote: 3-0
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS THAT THE TOWN APPROPRIATE
$68,000 FROM THE WATER SURPLUS, WATER INFRASTRUCTURE ACCOUNT FOR
THE PURPOSE STATED IN THE ARTICLE. (UNANIMOUS)

- Article 7 Passed Unanimously 

ARTICLE 8: WATER MAIN REPLACEMENT CONSTRUCTION COST FOR SHAW
FARM ROAD AREA
SPONSORED BY: Board of Selectmen
To see if the Town will vote to appropriate from Water Surplus, Water Infrastructure Account,
$1.13 million dollars for construction and tasks related to replacement of approximately 5,400
linear feet of water mains in the Shaw Farm Road area. The scope of this project includes new
water mains, valves, hydrants, service connections, surface restoration and related work on Clark
Drive, Cold Spring Road, Shaw Farms Road, Cynthia Circle, Appleyard Lane, Roberta Circle
and Heritage Way; or to take any action relative thereto.
Board of Selectmen Vote: 3-0
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS FAVORABLE ACTION (FUNDING
DETAILS TO BE PROVIDED AT TOWN MEETING) (UNANIMOUS)

- Article 8 Passed Unanimously 

ARTICLE 9: COMMUNITY PRESERVATION COMMITTEE BUDGET
SPONSORED BY: Community Preservation Committee
To see if the Town will vote to act on the report of the Community Preservation Committee on
the fiscal year 2017 Community Preservation budget and to appropriate or reserve for later
appropriation monies from the Community Preservation Fund annual revenues or available funds
for administrative expenses of the Community Preservation Committee, the payment of debt
service, the undertaking of community preservation projects and all other necessary and proper
expenses for the year; or take any action relative thereto.
Board of Selectmen Vote: At Town Meeting
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE WILL MAKE A RECOMMENDATION AT TOWN
MEETING (UNANIMOUS)

Frank Chamberlain, the head of the Community Preservation Committee got up to give a report on the committee and an overview of Articles 9 and 10. In short, the CPC is responsible for undertaking local projects in the interest of historical preservation, affordable housing, and open space/recreation.  As part of Article 9, the Committee requested an additional $300,000 for 40 units of affordable housing, a reauthorization of $6,400 that was previously appropriated for the Rail Trail but has since expired, and an extension of $8,500 worth of funds that were appropriated for developing a small number of parking spaces for accessing Wenakeening Woods.  Chamberlain also expressed his support for the acquisition of Adams St. parcel detailed in Article 10 as part of a town-wide plan for long-term community preservation.  

- John Cronin, former Finance Committee Chairman asked Chamberlain to more specifically summarize and itemize the Community Preservation Committee's budget and clarify what portions are spent on the three fields of historical preservation, affordable housing, and open space/recreation.

- Chamberlain responded that the Committee is legally required to spend at least 10% of its budget on each of those goals, with the remaining 70% being divided among those three categories in whichever way the Committee decides.  Chamberlain did not have specific numbers present, but estimated that the Committee had roughly $1.6 million in available funds.  Of that, approximately $400,000 is allocated for historical preservation, approximately $120,000 is allocated for affordable housing, and approximately $230,000 is allocated for open space/recreation.  The remaining funds are not allocated.

- Article 9 Passed Unanimously

ARTICLE 10: PROPERTY ACQUISITION ADAMS STREET
SPONSORED BY: Board of Selectmen
To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds, grants or
borrow $600,000 for the purposes of purchasing property, shown as Board of Assessors parcel
ID 136/004.0-0002-0041.0 consisting of approximately 10.29 acres more or less, or take any
action relative thereto.
Board of Selectmen Vote: 3-0
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE WILL MAKE A RECOMMENDATION AT TOWN
MEETING (UNANIMOUS)

Lixy Carey, the Chair of Holliston's Open Space Committee, spoke regarding Article 10.  As part of the town's Open Space and Recreation plan, the Committee wishes to acquire a 4.5 acre lot on Adams Street.  The lot abuts approximately 300 acres of already extant conservation land and has been designated as an unusually biodiverse area by the state.  The land also lies within the watershed of a well that provides for the town's public water supply.  The purchase would cost $300,000 and is one of two adjacent lots that the town has expressed interest in purchasing in the near future.

- Mr. Cronin again got up and asked whether any surveys or inspections had been performed on the land in question.

- Ann Marie Pilch, below, who was Carey's predecessor as Chair of the Open Space Committee, responded by saying that while there haven't been any comprehensive surveys done on the land in question, the water table there is tested periodically due to the presence of a town well.  Furthermore, she stated that the land has been purely residential in use and has no industrial history.

- Joan Shaughnessy, below, a member of the School Committee, inquired about the purchase price of the land, noting that the Article would allocate $10,000 extra to the $290,000 purchase price of the land for closing costs.

- Ms. Carey answered, stating that it is unlikely all $10,000 will be used for closing costs, but that it is being requested so that the town does not hit its budgetary limit during the sale, which would require postponing it until more can be allocated.  Carey stated that any unused money would not be spent and would be returned to the Committee fund to be allocated for other purposes in the future. 

- Mr. Cronin then got up and proposed an amendment to the article that would mandate a survey of the land in question for soil conditions and potential contaminates prior to purchase.

- Jay Leary, the Chair of the Board of Selectmen, asked what had prompted concerns over the soil quality of the lot in question and whether there was any estimate on the cost of the proposed survey.

- Ms. Carey again spoke, reiterating that the lot abuts conservation land, has no history of industrial activity and mentioning that one of the owners is a teacher in Natick who focuses on environmental issues and that they had bought the land specifically hoping that the town would eventually purchase it for conservation purposes.  Based on this, she expressed confidence that the land is uncontaminated.

- Jay Robinson  then asked both the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen what information they had considered when deciding to vote to acquire the property and how they had concluded that the land is uncontaminated. 

- Mr. Szajda responded for the Finance Committee, stating that the Committee had examined the purchase from a purely fiscal standpoint and said that while testing the soil may or may not be a prudent idea, it would likely be an expensive endeavor.

- Selectmen Jay Marsden, below. responded that the Selectmen are in favor of acquiring the property because it has always been residential in use and the background of the current owners makes any dumping or other forms of contamination unlikely.

- Gary Donlin, below,  then got up to speak, stating his belief that the land should be inspected before purchase as part of due diligence to taxpayers and noting that nobody had yet presented any hard evidence that the land is free of contaminants. 

- Mr. Leary again got up, stating that concerns about contaminants are overstated and that there is nothing town is aware of that would suggest any sort of environmental problems with the land.  He then urged those in attendance to vote no on the proposed amendment, calling it unnecessary. 

- Mark Schultz, below,   then decided to speak, saying that without a cost estimate the amendment is untenable. He then reiterated the lack of industrial history on the property and stated that financial prudence would dictate that the town should not spend untold thousands of dollars to superfluously test the soil of this property and further delay its purchase.

- Michelle Zeamer, above, a member of the Finance Committee reiterated that the Committee made its decision based on purely fiscal information and has no authority in environmental affairs.  However, she argued that the state biodiversity designation of the area in question and the fact that the property and its well sit on a regularly tested aquifer make a strong case that the land is free of substantial contaminates.

- The Amendment was then taken to a vote and soundly defeated

- Article 10 passed unanimously 

 

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