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Session 2 votes to support name change to Select Board

Hears estimates of tax impact expected after 2019 ballot votes

UPDATED, April 26: Following firm words favoring change from a series of women and one longtime selectman, Town Meeting on Wednesday, April 25, voted decisively to support the article aiming to change the Colonial-era "Board of Selectmen" to 21st-century "Select Board."Town Meeting logo

Two other motions, one seeking to name the board "Town Council," and the other asking for delay so the name could be studied were defeated.

Just after that action, the meeting voted a second name change -- that of Vision 2020, established in 1992, to Envision Arlington.

Here is a summary of the actions taken at the second session of the 2018 Town Meeting. The number in parentheses is the precinct the meeting member represents.

Effects on taxpayers forecast, name change discussion

The night's other highlight was the response to questions from a meeting member who wanted to know the potential impact on taxpayers of two expected ballot questions in 2019 seeking a operating override for the town and a debt exclusion to rebuild the high school.

The numbers presented remain estimates with many unknowns, so let's first deal with history: Arlington made a little when the 211th Town Meeting decided to join a number of Massachusetts towns, including next-door Winchester, and move toward renaming its top Town Hall board under Article 20.

The female supporters of gender-neutrality -- Naomi Greenfield (15), Clarissa Rowe (4), Jennifer Susse (3), Mel Goldsipe (20), Annie LaCourt (15) -- made clear their case. That included Greenfield's position that the change would encourage all genders to serve.

Paul Schlichtman (9) offered a substitute motion to have a committee arrive at a better name that "Select Board." He asked, "Can't we do better?" and outlined an argument expressed in February on YourArlington.

Joe Tully (13) expressed support, urging that more time be taken to find a name this is "more euphonious."

A motion by Timur Yontar (7) would change the name to "Town Council." He called Select Board "awkward," adding it makes it sound like our body is a piece of wood.

Greeley speech

In a stirring speech, Kevin Greeley (11) said, "I'm a white, 67-year-old man who for 30 years who has been called a select-MAN." For years before that, his father was, too.

He said he originally opposed the article, but has "seen error of my ways," because of the women who serve the board, including the "mayor of Arlington, Marie Krepelka," who is the board administrator. "If it's true that one more woman served because of the change," he said, "it's worth it."

Keeping the word "select" in the name is crucial, he said, citing the Colonial meaning of the term.

Debate ended on a vote of 169-36. By a vote of 23-183-1, Yontar's motion failed. The vote defeating Schlichtman's motion was 21-185. The article was approved, 195-6-5, to hearty applause. 

YourArlington's updated Select Board logo looks like this: Select Board, April 27, 2018

Capital budget

When Town Meeting resumed April 25, members were to consider Article 19 (municipal finance department), but that was delayed in favor of considering Article 30 (capital budget), where discussion of the potential tax impact of next year's votes arose.

To understand the $11,685,000 budget, read the committee's report >> 

David Levy (18) asked about what impact the possible cost of the high school and operating override would have on taxes.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine explained by trying to be specific with so many specifics remaining to be decided. For example, still no known is just how much the state will reimburse the town for the high school, whose early cost estimates suggest a $300 million rebuild.

The manager offered a possibility -- a $300 million high school with a 35-percent reimbursement rate would result in a tax increase of $700 on an Arlington home with an average assessed value of $650,000.

For the town's operating override, decisions remain, including the length of the override. An override next year for fiscal 2020 supporting a three-year balanced budget would raise taxes $305 for the home at the average assessed value. A four-year budget would raise them $530, and five years would be $705.

In response, Levy said: "Some can afford this; some cannot." He asked the Capital Planning Committee to "think hard" about 5-percent cushion it uses to estimate costs and "potentially drop that number."

Debate was terminated on a 170-28-2 vote. The eight-part article, voted as one motion, passed, 207-1-2.

CPA fund

For Article 39 (CPA fund) Eric Helmuth, chair of the Community Preservation Committee, summarized the spending plans. See the recommended projects >>

LaCourt noted that the fund "vastly increases" the amount Arlington can invest in affordable housing.

John Worden (8) touted the fund's value to historic preservation. He said that a reported suggested remove railroad tracks at Whittemore Park would be an "abomination."

To a question from Steve Revilak (1) about how state matching funds were trending, Helmuth indicated they are expected to decline.

Chris Rowell (21) wanted to know how $500,000 would be split for projects at Downing Square and Broadway, but Pam Hallett (21), head of the Housing Corporation of Arlington, said she was treating both projects as a whole.

After computer woes were fixed following the 9:30 break, the article was adopted, 172-2-2.

Municipal finance

Article 19 (municipal finance department), the issue so contentious in 2012, was approved without fireworks -- and an apology.

Referring to the selectmen's report, Dan Dunn (21) said he was sorry for "more errors than we would like .... Don't take a new job on same day you become chairman." 

The Town Hall parts of the departmental puzzle -- treasurer, comptroller, assistant town manager, deputy town manager/finance director -- can now be put together, he said, praising Treasurer Dean Carman's that the new arrangement opens up good career paths for some.

Carman said the setup allows flexibility and that the manager will appoint deputy town manager as finance director.
Few questions led to a vote of 200-7-1.

Vision 2020, many others

Under Article 21 (Vision 2020), Juli Brazile (12) offered background, and Bill Berkowitz (8) provided a list of ways the organization can serve, before the moderator stopped him. The vote for approval was 194-0-1.

Selectman gave Article 22 (local-option taxes) a recommendation of no action following new regulations two weeks ago, and the meeting endorsed that with a voice vote.

Article 23 (CDBG) was endorsed on a voice vote, 198-0-1.

Article 24 (revolving funds) was adopted, 195-0-0.

Article 26 (position reclassification) was supported, 193-1-2.

Article 28 (parking) was approved 197-2-1.

Under Article 27 (collective bargaining), Fincom Chair Allan Tosti (17) said three-year contracts for all unions end June 30. A few have settled, but the town is hoping for all to conclude, so he asked the measure to be tabled, and it was on a voice vote.

By voice vote, Article 29 (budgets) was postponed by voice vote.

When Town Meeting resumes Monday, April 30, members will consider budget articles, including Minuteman's.


Dan Dunn's session 2 notes >>

Session 2 votes (town website)

April 23, 2018: Session 1 speeds from private ways to dogs to vacant storefronts to arts

Reports to Town Meeting include: Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, Community Preservation CommitteeVision 2020, Redevelopment Board and Permanent Town Building Committee.
 For all 2018 Town Meeting information, including members, visit arlingtonma.gov/townmeeting.

This news summary was published Wednesday, April 25, 2018, and updated Thursday, April 26.

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