Selectmen Meet September 19, 2012
by Paul Saulnier 9/20/12
Selectmen had a full schedule Wednesday night as they hosted the EDC and the Police and Fire Chiefs.
Selectmen Chair Jay Marsden opened the meeting by declaring September 16, 2012, American Legion Day. Jay read a proclamation honoring veterans and Legion members for their service to the country and the community.
The three members appointed to the EDC (Economic Development Committee), Fran Colantonio, Bill Bradley, and Greg Carey, left to right above, brought Arthur Robert, far right, to speak to Selectmen about establishing an ETA (Economic Target Area). Mr Robert is the Regional Director of the Massachusetts Office of Budget Development.
Together they presented the potential benefits of an ETA in Holliston, including state tax credits for businesses, real estate taxes for the town gained from the use of buildings not currently in use, and expanded business and development. Most of the towns bordering on Holliston have already established ETAs so Holliston would be at a disadvantage without one.
To qualify for an ETA, a town must meet the 10-point criteria established by the state. But Holliston does not meet most of the criteria. Gladly, our unemployment does not exceed the state rate by 25%, and 51% of our households don't have an income below the 80% median. However, we can petition the legislature directly for an ETA. Hopkinton is among the bordering towns which established an ETA this way. Framingham and Milford established ETAs the hard way.
Marsden asked about the down side. Mr. Robert indicated that the ETA is a 20-year commitment but, once established, the state does not get involved in the negotiations between the town and a potential new or expanded business in town. Robert pointed out that, to qualify, a business must produce a product for export from Massachusetts that equates to 25% of its new or expanded business.
Selectman Kevin Conley learned that Holliston could establish an individual ETA or become part of an adjacent community's ETA. Colantonio emphasized that a strong ETA web site is the key to attracting new business. The site should list the benefits that Holliston has to offer, such as infrastructure and community, which businesses may be looking for as they search for ETAs.
Fire Chief Michael Cassidy and Police Chief John Moore provided Selectmen with their views on the recent study of eight communities and the potential to share a regional communications center. The study predicted that Holliston would save $240,000 per year if all eight communities joined the center, with an estimated startup cost of between $400,000 and $500,000.
However the savings and cost would be dramatically different if the large communities in the study, Framingham and Natick, decided not to join. A decision has to be made by September 30, 2012 and no community has committed either way. At this point, Chief Moore said "it's a crap shoot". No town has been willing to reveal its decision before the deadline.
The joint chiefs also point out that the predicted savings assumes that there would be no dispatchers at either station, which would not be the case. The dispatchers are the only presence at both stations and residents expect to be able to speak to someone and ask questions. They recommended against joining the regional center at this time. Both agreed that a smaller center, consisting of two or three nearby towns might work. The Selectmen voted against joining.
Peter Barbieri, above, appeared before the Selectmen to press for elimination of eligibility for town insurance for part time elected officials receiving a stipend under $5,000 per year.
In other business, the board appointed Nathaniel Bachman and Timothy Hutton as EMTs, and reappointed Marty Perlman to HCAT.
Posted in Politics.