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Select Board commits to June debt exclusion, operating override

selectboard logo“We’re using foresight and planning for what we know is coming down the pike."
-- Joe Curro

UPDATED, Jan. 25: Arlington’s Select Board confirmed its commitment to the 2019 debt exclusion and operating override, as unanimously approved at its Wednesday, Jan. 23, meeting.

The specific amounts to be raised are yet to be determined. The public vote, mentioned earlier as June 8, has changed to Tuesday, June 11. A formal vote is expected in mid-April.

The debt exclusion is to support rebuilding Arlington High School. The override is for town operating expenses.

“We need the [town] funds to provide necessary services,” said Select Board member John Hurd.

Chair Dan Dunn stated, “We should confirm all our commitments -- to schools, roads and budgets -- and that if we cannot pay for services, we’ll cut them.”

Member Joseph Curro Jr. said: “We’re using foresight and planning for what we know is coming down the pike. We’re interested in protecting those who are vulnerable, such as seniors, but are also committed to proactively planning for our services. This is particularly important because the high school project is so large.”

Clarissa Rowe added, “It’s important that we be completely transparent, because there’s a lot of upset right now. We need to remember that we have just raised taxes, and on a number of neighborhoods quite substantially.”

Diane Mahon, the longest-serving member, said: “We take any override and/or increase in taxes very seriously.”

Here is an overview provided by Dunn >>

Fiscal 2020 budget presented

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine presented the town’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget, which totals $170,994,816, an increase of $7,226,253 (4.4 percent) from the current budget. The Select Board voted unanimously to receive it.

Budget highlights include:

  • Town’s commitment to its senior population, with continued investment in senior residents and major renovation of the Senior Center.
  • Investment in sustainability, with $100,000 designated for the pilot Food Scrap Diversion program. “We’re looking at ways to save money when we go out to bid, and the DPW is working on what the pilot will look at,” said Chapdelaine.
  • Investment in livability, recommending funding for developing a sustainable mobility plan as well as pedestrian and bicycle improvements for walkers, bicyclists and the disabled.
  • Investment in diversity and inclusion, proposing the creation of a manager of diversity, equality and inclusion ($55,000) to work with the Disabilities Commission, Human Rights Commission and Rainbow Commission. “This would institutionalize our diversity inclusion efforts in town,” he explained.

Police chief appointment process

The board voted, 4-0, with Mahon dissenting, to place the police chief appointment process on the warrant.

The town seeks a permanent replacement for Chief Fred Ryan, who retired Jan. 13. At issue is whether to remove the position from Civil Service, which would broaden the pool of candidates by opening the position to any candidates from within the state and beyond, but by no means ruling out making a promotion from within the department.

Curro said, “The merits of keeping this position in Civil Service or taking it out is an important enough discussion to be on the warrant.”

Hurd said, “We have great candidates within the department, and I’ve been hearing a lot of support for the four people in the department. It’s a well-oiled machine, and it would be a disappointment to not continue what Chief Ryan has built the past 20 past years.”

Mahon, not wanting to repeat her comments from the Jan. 7 Select Board meeting, read from a letter from Steven Conroy, president of the Arlington Police Ranking Officer’s Association:

“When former police chief Fred Ryan and various town officials made the argument to place this position back into Civil Service, after it’d been taken out 5 or 6 years previously, their arguments all agree that the title of a Civil Service Chief, and the perceived authority that came with it, augmented the Chief’s standing as a leader among their subordinates, and granted the Chief the autonomy and authority to effectively run the department, in order to accomplish his mission.”

Mahon added, “In 2012, Chief Ryan stated that keeping my position out of Civil Service compromises my leadership, and without that leadership, it is difficult to manage the organization.”

Warrant articles discussed

The board voted unanimously to place the following articles on the warrant:

Voting access: This would increase voting access throughout the town by exploring and encouraging the adoption of all available, legal measures to enhance voting opportunities for state and town elections.

“I want to make sure we’re ready early for the 2020 voting season, and have a date that makes sense,” Rowe said.

Town treasurer: This would authorize and request the Select Board to file home-rule legislation to update the Town Manager Act to reflect the transition of the treasurer’s office from an elected to appointed position.

Short-term rental regulations: This would amend the town bylaws to require registration, inspection and other regulations governing the operation of short-term rentals.

Short-term rental impact fees: This would adopt a “community impact” fee for short-term rentals of residential or commercial property.

Means-tested senior tax relief: This would authorize and request the Select Board to file Home Rule legislation to establish a local controlled, means-tested senior citizen property tax exemption.

Senior tax-deferral limit: This would approve the maximum income level of qualifying seniors (within a cap set by the commissioner of revenue) to mitigate the tax burden of Arlington home-owner seniors on limited incomes.

Water-line replacement: This would amend the town bylaws to require inspection and, as needed, repair or replace residential and commercial water connections before the sale of any privately owned property.

Deaccession of town property – library art prints: This would authorize the Library Board of Trustees and town to dispose of by sale, donation or other means, the Robbins Art Print Collection.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution: This would adopt a resolution to celebrate “Indigenous People’s Day” on the second Monday in October in lieu of Columbus Day, and to educate the town of indigenous person’s history, culture and contributions to our nation and community.

Old Schwamb Mill memorial to honor Patricia Fitzmaurice

The board unanimously approved to name green space in front of the Old Schwamb Mill after the late Patricia Fitzmaurice, mill preservationist and managing trustee for more than 30 years.

“Her swift action and foresight served to protect the Old Schwamb Mill,” said Dermot Whittaker, president of the Schwamb Mill Preservation Trust.

Rowe added, “This is a tremendous idea. She was a preservationist in a time when preservation wasn’t important, and managed to save one of the more important historical sites in Arlington.”

Citizens' open forum

Several town residents addressed their concerns about overnight parking, which will be a warrant article.

Lynette Martin said, “I’m here to support the warrant being submitted to see if the town will provide a nonbinding resolution to provide an exemption to the overnight parking ban for those with medical hardships. Car ownership is key to maintaining a job for many disabled folks, and some real-estate agents are evasive or dishonest about parking, and landlords can charge extraneous parking fees.”

Kim Holt also wants a warrant seeking to review the overnight parking ban, which she believes disproportionately targets disadvantaged residents, to provide exemptions for residents with medical or other hardships.

Shaileen Pokress concurred that the overnight parking ban disproportionately affects those with handicaps.

Lynette Culverhouse said, “Arlington encourages diversity, but only people who can afford a driveway can park for free overnight. Those who cannot afford a driveway, cannot park for free, which seems discriminatory.”

Stephen Revilak also supports the petition to establish a permit parking program for low-income individuals or those with disabilities. “This town does a good job of taking care of people, and this would be a good step in the right direction.”

In addition, Ben Rudick is submitting a warrant article to allow all legal town residents who are green-card holders to vote in Arlington elections. “It’s a matter of fairness for people who are legal residents, and the fabric of our community, to have a say in how their taxes are spent.”

Special one-day beer-and-wine license

The board unanimously approved a special license for the Arlington Center for the Arts’ annual Blue Jean Ball, Robbins Memorial Town Hall, Feb. 2.

Jan. 9, 2019: Select Board discusses process for acting, permanent chief

This summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, and updated the same day, as well as Jan 25, to add a full report.

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