Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee Meeting
September 29, 2008
Chairman Bob Recore called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Also in attendance were vice-chair David Hall, William Connor, Amy Valletta, Douglas Reid, Patti Weagle, Helder Machado, and Patricia Nedoroscik.
Others in attendance were James Smith, Town Administrator, Michael Chizy, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Donald Obuchowski, Sewer Superintendent, and Jennifer Hager, Planning Coordinator.
Chairman Recore opened the public hearing at 7:00 p.m. The committee heard an explanation and accompanying verification for each of the warrant articles that will be presented at the upcoming town meeting. On a motion made by Amy Valletta and seconded by David Hall, the public hearing was closed at 8:27 p.m. A recapitulation of the discussion on each article is contained during the “Town Meeting Article Recommendations” section of these minutes.
On a motion made by David Hall and seconded by Amy Valletta the minutes of the meeting of August 4th were approved. Ms. Weagle abstained.
Town Administrator Update:
Town Administrator James Smith briefly discussed the upcoming joint meeting between the Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee, the Board of Selectmen, and the School Committee. He also related that, due to the extreme economic conditions that the country has been experiencing he expects that local aid will be impacted. The current economic issues will also affect the town’s pension fund contributions. The joint meeting is scheduled for November 3rd.
Town Meeting Article Recommendations:
Prior to making recommendations Ms. Valletta asked how the Finance and Warrant Committee typically writes its recommendations. Mr. Hall responded that there is a practice of historically referring to the Planning Board recommendations for the many planning articles and that the committee could say that they concurred with the Planning Board. Mr. Recore asked if there were any objections to referencing the Planning Board recommendations for articles 4-28; there were none.
Mr. Smith had again reiterated that moving to quarterly billing would allow the town to collect revenues in a timelier manner and help to prevent borrowing to make payments for payroll, accounts payable, and debt repayment. On a motion made by Ms. Weagle and seconded by Mr. Connor the committee voted unanimously to recommend the article as written. Ms. Valletta urged that every measure be taken to get the word out about quarterly billing to the voters.
Mr. Obuchowski had explained that this article was necessary to bring the Sutton Sewer Department into DEP compliance. The low temperatures in the winter are an issue with the sewer effluent that could be resolved by the installation of fiberglass covers. There is approximately $ 530,000.00 in the Sewer Department Retained Earnings (similar to their “free cash”) account that could be used for this purpose. On a motion made by Ms. Valletta and seconded by Mr. Connor the committee voted unanimously to recommend the article as written.
Members of the committee had concerns with the wording of this article as presented in the warrant that had been provided, however Mr. Smith provided the committee with a new article that will be contained in the final warrant approved by the Board of Selectmen as follows:
“To see if the Town will vote to amend Article 30, False Alarms of the General Bylaws by deleting from Section 30.2(1)(a) “Twenty five dollars for the fourth alarm”, and inserting in its place “One Hundred dollars for the fourth alarm”; and deleting from Section 30.2(2)(b) “Fifty dollars for the fifth and subsequent alarms” and inserting in its place “Two hundred dollars for the fifth and subsequent alarms”, or take any action thereto.”
Mr. Smith explained that the intent of the change was to increase the fines for false alarms to try and recoup some of the actual costs and discourage repeated false alarms resulting from faulty alarm systems.
On a motion made by Mr. Hall and seconded by Ms. Valletta the committee voted unanimously to recommend the article as written.
The petitioner was not present; Ms. Hager spoke on the article which requested rezoning of a parcel along Route 146 currently occupied by Honey Dew Donuts from Industrial to Business-2. She explained that rezoning this parcel would bring it in uniformity with other contiguous parcels and allow additional uses of the parcel. Members of the committee questioned the map that accompanied the petition as they had concerns about whether or not the change would isolate the parcel; Ms. Hager assured them that it would not. The committee voted unanimously to concur with the Planning Board recommendation on a motion made by Mr. Hall and seconded by Ms. Valletta.
Articles 5-13: After explanations of each article provided by Ms. Hager the committee voted unanimously to concur with the Planning Board recommendation on a motion made by Mr. Hall and seconded by Ms. Valletta.
Article 14: Mr. Hall expressed concern relating to the portion of this article “selling goods to the public” that may limit the use and value of a particular location. Mr. Connor thought that this would allow room for individual preferences or dislikes to come in and Ms. Hager noted that people must have trust in each planning board to interpret what should come under a “special permit”. Members also talked about suitability, for example a “gun shop” in a densely populated village area as opposed to an area zoned business highway.
After discussion, the committee voted unanimously to concur with the Planning Board recommendation on this article on a motion made by Mr. Hall and seconded by Ms. Valletta.
Article 15: Ms. Hager explained that there are agricultural protections implied through Mass General Laws, hence the Planning Board rationale for moving “kennels” to “commercial kennels” in Retail, Trade and Service Uses. The committee voted unanimously to concur with the Planning Board recommendation on a motion made by Mr. Hall and seconded by Ms. Valletta.
Articles 16-28: After explanation by Ms. Hager the committee voted unanimously to concur with the Planning Board recommendations on a motion made by Mr. Hall and seconded by Ms. Valletta.
On a motion made by Ms. Valletta and seconded by Mr. Machado it was voted to cancel the scheduled October 27th meeting and meet 30 minutes prior to the start of the November 3rd meeting. The vote was unanimous.
Members of the committee turned in their updated information to Ms. Nedoroscik who will provide the town clerk with the information as requested.
The Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee opted to try to meet on the 4th Monday of each month at the last meeting.
The following meeting dates are scheduled:
November 3rd meeting at 6:30 p.m.
November 24th meeting at 7:00 p.m.
December 22nd meeting at 7:00 p.m.
On a motion made by Mr. Hall and seconded by Mr. Machado the meeting was adjourned at 8:58 p.m.