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|May 24th Town Meeting Articles: DISCUSSION|| |
- Quote :
- Voters will tackle 21 articles Monday night
By George Morse
The town’s budget for fiscal year 2011 and the creation of a new senior center building committee are just two articles facing voters when Seekonk convenes for its town meeting Monday night. The meeting’s warrant includes a total of 21 articles ranging from budgetary matters to zoning issues, capital purchases and a land transfer. Here are some of the highlights of Monday’s articles.
- Article 2: The budget
Like every town meeting held in May or June, voters will be faced with setting Seekonk’s budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins on July 1 and runs until June 30, 2011. The motion for this article will be made at town meeting after the budget has been considered line-by-line and any amendments have been put forth.
- Article 3: Library land to the library trustees.
A couple of months ago the board of selectmen and the library board of trustees engaged in a brief debate about who exactly owns the land surrounding Seekonk Public Library. The plot in back of the library has received a lot of attention the last couple years as the area has been groomed to become the town’s first public park, now called Seekonk Meadows.
At the time, the selectmen argued that while the library building belongs to the trustees, the surrounding acreage has never been transferred from the town. The trustees countered with a town meeting vote from the late 1970s that they claimed proved the opposite.
The matter was further complicated by a recent offer to donate the long-since open police association building to the town. The building sits in back of library.
To clear up the matter going forward, this article looks to transfer several acres of land surrounding the library to the trustees while maintaining town access to the police association building. Another article, number 20, looks to give the trustees purview to appoint a Meadows Committee. This seven-member board would be charged with planning and maintaining passive recreation at the Meadows.
- Article 4: The senior center building committee
This article will look to give the town moderator a total of seven appointments. These appointees would serve on the town’s latest senior center building committee, charged with overseeing the design, construction and initial equipping and furnishing of a new town senior center. These appointments can begin as soon as the town meeting appeal period ends should the article be approved.
- Articles 5, 6 and 14 : Capital purchases
These three articles will look to transfer money from either the Free Cash or Municipal Stabilization Fund (MSF) to purchase several items. Article 5 looks to transfer $190,000 from the MSF to purchase a multi-purpose vehicle and attachments for the collection of yard waste, roadway maintenance and snow removal. The article also authorizes the selectmen to sell or trade one or more “related vehicles.”
Article 6 looks to send $126,354 from Free Cash. About $57,000 of this will fund the fifth year of a seven-year lease/purchase agreement for fire apparatus to be expended by the fire chief while the remaining $69,000 will fund the second year of a five-year lease/purchase for a telecommunications network and applications to be expended by the school committee.
Article 14 will look for another $59,357 from Free Cash to purchase two special education vehicles to be spent by the school committee. The article also looks to authorize the school committee to dispose of school buses “that are being replaced by sale, trade of other means in the best interest of the town.”
- Article 7: Revolving Funds
A total of eight revolving funds will need voter approval to exist in FY11, six of which have been in place for several years. These include funds for the human services council and the conservation commission along with a trash bag fund, a recreation fund, a police recruitment fund and a police vehicle fund.
Two new revolving funds will also be up for authorization, both of which involve the library. Though the library has sold food and beverages and operated a vending machine for months, these two revolving funds would allow revenue from the sale of these items to replenish the necessary supplies for continuing the services. Currently, these funds are given back to the town as revenue.
- Article 10: The newest farm in Seekonk
This article will request voter approval on a zoning by-law amendment that clarifies the town’s ability to let a solar farm be erected on land currently home to the Seekonk Driving Range. Last fall, Ansar Energy LLC (a group that develops electric power projects and consults on sustainable energy projects around Massachusetts) expressed interest in constructing a 25–acre solar farm on the land.
Town administrator Michael Carroll said that while the current zoning by-law affecting the area could be interpreted to allow such a project, Article 10 will look to clarify the by-law’s language. Town planner John Hansen, the planning board and the selectmen have all expressed support for the project.
- Article 12: The Route 152 Project ... Again
In January voters authorized the board of selectmen to acquire in behalf of the town the necessary land parcels for obtaining a Right-of-way certificate on the Route 152 Project. On Monday, they will be asked to do it again.
Mr. Carroll said the matter is back before voters because some of the parcel takings have been altered from the plans approved in January. Mr. Carroll said that almost all of these changes are minor, with some as little as a foot.
- Article 15: Beware the Ides of March
This article, submitted by the selectmen, will look to amend the Home Rule Charter so that the annual town meeting must be held in April, May or June as opposed to March, April or May. Holding the meeting later in the spring will allow town officials more time to process budget figures coming down from the state level.
- Articles 16, 17 and 18: Power to the People
All three of these articles were put forth as citizen petitions. Article 16 looks to have the town meeting warrant posted 21 days in advance of town meeting as opposed to the current requirement of 14. Article 17 looks to put a one-year moratorium on temporary signage by-laws while the planning board, zoning board and a representation of the “effected business community” make evaluations and recommendations resulting in a document to modify the current by-law.
Article 18 calls for the development of a centralized maintenance department, doing away with separate entities for the town and school sides of government. The process of this development, according to the article, would include the planning board, zoning board and capital improvement committee meeting to “determine the methodology as well as selecting from their committees or outside interested/knowledge parties no less than five nor more than seven individuals to meet and formulate an inclusive document” as to the benefits and financial insight of this consolidation.
To view the entire warrant, visit www.seekonk.info. The town meeting will begin Monday, May 24, at 7 p.m. from the Seekonk High School auditorium.