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Special Town Meeting and Town Meeting ‘10 Session 5

I take notes during Town Meeting. They are not official in any way. As I listen to people speak, I type notes. I’m sure that, at times, I mishear or misunderstand the speaker, but my notes represent what I hear at the time. I then publish the notes every night after the meeting. I do go back and make a few edits as errors are pointed out to me.

I do not try to reproduce my entire notes for this online version. Sometimes I relay a quote from a specific speaker. Most of the time I only summarize the discussion. At points I give a purely personal opinion; those are clearly labeled like this: Personal note.

8:05 start.

Town Meeting Member Charlie Gallager played the national anthem on the piano.

  • The Town Moderator announced that you can now find archives of the town meeting member list on the town website. The placement of that link on the site was prompted by a letter to the Arlington Advocate that suggested that secrets were being passed on the email list. I bet they’re pretty disappointed with how boring the list is.  But so useful!
  • Joe Curro introduced Juli Brazile on Bridge the Gap. She reported on the progress so far and encouraged town meeting members to talk about the campaign with our constituents.

Article 3 was taken off the table.

  • Treasurer Gilligan gave the treasurer report.
  • John Cole gave the report of the Permanent Town Building Committee.

Charlie Foskett moved that Articles 5 through 52 be laid upon the table. He did this so that we can consider all the capital articles in a row, from special town meeting to regular town meeting.

We opened the Special Town Meeting. We passed the rules of the meeting. If we don’t finish, we’ll reconvene on the 12th.

  • Chris Loreti delivered the ARB report to the special town meeting.
  • Al Tosti delivered the FinCom report to the special town meeting.

Article 1 is tabled.

Article 2 – FEMA Floodmap Adoption. Loreti said the change is required. Town Counsel Juliana Rice explained that for residents to buy flood insurance from FEMA, we have to adopt their maps and restrict usage of flood plain. We are doing this in a special town meeting because we are required to adopt this by June 4th. Mike Rademacher town engineer reviewed the public meetings that have happened on the topic since 2007. A single speaker in favor, then we voted. Passed unanimously.

Article 3 – Town Budget Transfers. Voted no action.

Article 4 – Capital Budget – Fire Station. Charlie Foskett presented.  We’re doing this in the Special Town Meeting because some emergency repairs are necessary. Also it permits us to get building earlier in the season. Stratton is lumping together multiple year’s $150,000 for a larger spend. He noted that the capital budget is within 5% of the total budget, and does not include any override or other revenue enhancements. He moved a substitute motion with lower numbers – bids came in lower. Gordon Jamieson noted that the fire stations are not optimally placed and is voting no. There were other speakers on the topic. The motion was substituted and approved unanimously.

Article 5 – Capital Budget – Community Safety. Again, Charlie Foskett moved the substitute motion with lower numbers. Some of the money for the remediation is coming from AHA. There was a question about the source of the money that the AHA gave and whether or not CDBG funds can and should be used. Noted that some of the parking at the community safety lot is there for Cook’s Hollow recreation. Substituted and approved unanimously.

The special town meeting was dissolved.

Article 53 – Capital Budget. There were questions about photocopiers. There was discussion of new trucks and cars. There were several other detailed questions about graves and text books and antenna fund and Wellington tennis courts.

We had a break at 9:27 Back at 9:40.

There are more questions on vehicles. Thompson school was discussed – the town and the MSBA are looking at possible future renovation in a feasibility study. The school rebuild program was reviewed. Debate was terminated. 155-1 approved.

Article 54 – Rescind Borrowing Authority. Unanimous.

Articles 5-53 taken from the table.

Article 20 – Pay As You Throw. Selectman Mahon gave the  selectmen’s vote was to accept the report and consider implementing it with a future override discussion. The Town Manager went through the Pay as You Throw report. He showed the benefits that could accrue to the town and supported the Selectmen’s motion to put it up for consideration.  Gordon Jamieson moved a substitute motion that was a stronger endorsement of immediate adoption.  Charlie Foskett and other speakers provided a competing analysis that said that the town didn’t actually save money – the money went to trash bags and administrative costs. There were speakers in favor of doing it for cost and for environmental reasons. Annie LaCourt noted that this is a tax, even though it isn’t technically covered by Proposition 2.5; she wants town meeting to endorse the main motion so that it can be considered as a part of the override plan. There were worries about dumping and animals. Al Tosti spoke against moving too quickly – this needs to include the voters.  There was a motion to adjourn by Bill Logan that was voted down.  Why adjourn, but not move the question?  I was baffled by this. Speakers ranged from opposed to the whole idea, opposed to doing it right away, to in favor of doing it right away. I like the idea, in general, because it will make some of the current abusers of the system change their behavior.  I’m concerned that once we start, though, that there will be no price control, and it could be abused as a dodge of proposition 2.5.  That’s why I like putting it on the ballot with an override: let the voters decide.  Substitute motion failed on voice vote. Selectmen’s motion carried 98-50.

Meeting adjourned at 11:10.


Comment from William J. Logan, Esq.
Time: May 11, 2010, 3:07 am

Well Dan I can explain to you about my motion to adjourn rather than to move the question. I was on the list to speak (which is why I did not move the question, because I wanted to be heard on the issue) and it was getting near 11. I wanted everyone to be feeling refreshed and well rested for my comments so they could ponder them unhindered by the late hour.

Comment from Tim Moloney
Time: May 11, 2010, 11:18 am

Dan, Thank you for the notes. You state in the PAYT notes “I like the idea, in general, because it will make some of the current abusers of the system change their behavior.”.

Who are the abusers and what are they doing?

Comment from dunster
Time: May 11, 2010, 3:52 pm

@William. I guess I understand, but I’m glad the motion to adjourn didn’t carry. When we start late, have long breaks, and leave early, we end up having 15 different sessions. I like running a little long. It encourages speakers to be a bit more concise.

@Tim. Abuse was probably a bit strong of a word. Some people just don’t bother recycling at all. I’m not sure that is abuse, but it’s definitely a behavior that I’d like to see changed.

Another example I was thinking about really is abuse. That’s people who run a business and are using their home pickup to take away their business’s trash. If you want an example, drive up Alpine St. on any Friday morning, and you’ll quickly be able to see which household(s) are in the contracting business. PAYT would force them to change their behavior.

Comment from AW
Time: May 11, 2010, 10:15 pm

It’s unfortunate that the stronger PAYT motion didn’t carry. We pay for water hookup through taxes, but our use rate is separate so that heavy users pay for a proportional cost of the service. A simliar situation exists with other utilities. Why not pay for the rate of trash generated? That way you’re not subsidizing the family down the street that doesn’t recycle anything when you have six bins out and a small trash bag. I’ve lived in PAYT towns and very easy to deal with, and actually fair to those of us who recycle.

Comment from Peter Fuller
Time: May 12, 2010, 10:18 am

The Selectmen’s original PAYT motion read “That the Town Manager’s report to Town Meeting be accepted…..”. When this article first came up on April 28, Selectmen Chair Diane Mahon asked for an “administrative change” in wording to replace ‘accepted’ with ‘received’. This was granted by the Moderator, even though the wording change in my view substantially weakened the motion. This successful appeal for “administrative change” (which isn’t defined anywhere as far as I know, and has previously been used only for fixing grammatical or numbering errors) was not challenged by anyone, neither Selectmen nor TM members. This change should have been done by open vote of the Selectmen or as an amendment voted by the meeting.

Not really a big deal as what we voted on the PAYT article was merely a resolution without any legal force or effect.

Comment from Ralph
Time: May 12, 2010, 8:32 pm

I applaud the concept of PAYT. It’s the exceution that doesn’t work. Many contractors in the town unfairly burden the town with the refuse created in the course of their business. Do you really expect that they won’t be dumping it at midnight up on Summer street at the bottom of hospital hill, or up on the Symmes property itself? I know for a fact there has been illegal dumping there already, and who should we assign the cost of the enviromental cleanup to, the town? Unless we include huge fines for illegal dumping, and spend some money on enforcement(cameras), there wll be dump sites in every oversized parking lot in the town, Stop & Dump, Johnnies Dumpmaster, the Mill Brook -just about anywhere.