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Town Meeting ’18 – Session 2

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 try to publish the notes every night after the meeting. I do go back and make a few edits as errors are pointed out to me.  Sometimes I relay a quote from a specific speaker. Sometimes I only summarize the discussion. At points I give a purely personal opinion; those are clearly labeled like this: Personal note.

Kevin Greeley played the National Anthem on the piano, and the meeting sang along.

Moderator John Leone gave a question to test the voting clickers, “Was Steamboat Willie a silent film?” The vote was 85-70-16, and the actual answer was no – it had soundtrack.

The moderator swore in one new member. Hi Amy! Welcome!

It was noted that the test vote review didn’t finish, and they ran through it again.  It’s the opportunity to verify that your vote is working

Announcements and Article 3 Reports of Committees

  • John Maher announced the continuing availability of the Symmes non profit funds.
  • Alan Reedy gave the report of the Permanent Town Building Committee. He drew applause for the announcement that the project to rebuild all of the elementary schools is done. He offered thanks to John Kohl for his years of service at chairman.
  • Richard Greco gave an extended report of the Retirement Board.
  • Charles Kalauskas and Joseph Barr, co-chairs of master plan implementation committee gave an extended report on their committee.

Article 3 was laid on the table

We took article 30 out of order to do the capital plan.

Article 30 Capital Budget – Charlie Foskett, chair of the Capital Planning Committee, ran through the plan for the capital budget. There were a series of questions on details of the budget. There was a question about the possible cost of the high school and operating override. Adam Chapdelaine explained that there are still many unknowns on the high school, like exactly what will be reimbursable by the state. One conservative scenario is a $300m high school with a 35% reimbursement rate, which would give an average tax increase of $700 on the average Arlington house ($650,000 value). For the operating override there are also many decisions still to be made including how long the override is intended to last. An override in 2019 (FY2020) that supports a 3 year balanced budget would cost $305 for the average house; 4 year budget would cost $530; and 5 years would cost $705. I didn’t expect this question to appear in this way, or in this article, but I am really happy with Adam’s answer.  We don’t know all the answers yet, but we know a range of possibilities, and Adam’s answer was remarkably clear despite the ambiguity that remains.  I am glad that Town Meeting has heard the scope of the override campaign that we need next year.  Debate was terminated debate by a vote of 170-28-2. The budget passed 207-1-2.

Article 39 – Eric Helmuth, chair of the Community Preservation Committee ran through the plan for the CPA spending. There were several questions about the spending.  We took our 9:30 break and then approved the budget 172-2-2.

Article 19 – Financial Department I apologized for the errors in the Selectmen’s report. This really has been tough, and I’m very sorry about it.  This year’s process was different than past years, partly because of changes in personnel.  We didn’t get it right.  I will make sure we get it right going forward.  I explained this article is putting the pieces together. 200-7

Article 20 – I gave an introduction and endorsement of changing the Selectmen to Select Board. I said that Selectmen is a cause of unconscious bias, and we need to remove it. Proponents Clarissa Rowe and Naomi Greenfield explained their support. Paul Schlichtman made a substitute motion to put the question of what the new name should be to a committee. Timur Yontar made a substitute motion to change the name to Town Council. Several speakers were in favor of the main motion, at least one in favor of Schlichtman’s motion. John Deyst moved to terminate debate, and it was terminated 169-36. By a vote of 23-183-1 Yontar’s motion failed. 21-185 Schlichtman’s failed. 195-6-5 approved.

Article 21 – Change Vision 2020 to Envision Arlington. Juli Brazile gave the history of Vision 2020 and the plan for the group going forward. Two speakers were in favor.

Article 22 – Local Option Taxes.  No action

Article 23 – Community Development Block Grants. I’ve been chest-deep in emails and worries about the errors in the Selectmen’s report, and when I couldn’t find my CDBG report, I was convinced we’d forgotten to include it.  I’m glad that we did include it, and embarrassed about (yet another) error.  I first moved to postpone, and then I was shown that the report was distributed, and I was happy to see the postponement shot down.  After one question it was endorsed.

Article 24 – Revolving funds – Approved.

Article 26 – Position Reclassifications. There was a question, then approved.

Article 27 – Tabled – there may be union contracts.

Article 28 – Parking Budget. Approved. 197-2-1

Adjourned.

Comments

Comment from John Kohl
Time: April 26, 2018, 6:41 am

Not John Kohl, but John Cole.

Comment from liz reisberg
Time: April 26, 2018, 9:44 am

Thanks for the summary, Dan. Much appreciated. As you know I find the potential hit to property taxes very worrisome. I hope that there will be a corresponding program to provide relief to those of us with limited income to make the leap. Liz

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