October 2017 Town Meeting

Town Meetings are the legislative branch of our North Reading town government. In other words, they are Congress at the town level, and you, North Reading resident, are your own representative. Attend the October Town Meeting on October 2nd to ensure your interests are taken into account by our local government.

The next Town Meeting is this Monday, October 2, 2017 at 7 pm at North Reading High School. If you were registered to vote as of Sept. 12, you may vote in this Town Meeting.

Get prepared:

  1. Add this meeting to your calendar and get directions
  2. Find out how our Town Meetings work
  3. Learn about the articles under consideration at this Town Meeting

Below is an overview of the articles to be discussed and voted on. Click on any article or scroll down further to learn more about each article.

Rec. = recommended, NAR = no action required, TBM = recommendation to be made at the Town Meeting

# Name Board of Select-men Finance Committee
1. Hear and Act on Reports of Town Officers and Committees Rec. NAR
2. Prior Year Bills TBM TBM
3. Transfer Funds to Capital Improvement Stabilization Fund TBM TBM
4. Appropriate Money to Stabilization Fund TBM TBM
5. Transfer Funds to Other Post Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund TBM TBM
6. Amend FY 2018 Operating Budget TBM TBM
7. Fund Repairs to Town Buildings Rec. TBM
8. Fund Town Facilities Master Plan Rec. TBM
9. Appropriate Supplemental Funds for J.T. Berry/Lowell Road Property TBM TBM
10. Appropriate Funds for Study and Design – Water/Wastewater Connection Rec. TBM
11. Authorize Intermunicipal Agreement with Town of Andover and Home-Rule Petition for Potable Water Rec. TBM
12. Fund Construction of Pump Station, Reading and North Reading Water System Improvements for MWRA Water Interconnection and Acceptance of Water from the MWRA Rec. TBM
13. Authorize Intermunicipal Agreement with Town of Reading and Home-Rule Petition for Potable Water Rec. TBM
14. Authorize Article 97 Legislation for Potable Water Interconnection with Town of Reading Rec. TBM
15. Amend Code – General By-laws  – Social Host Responsibility TBM TBM
16. Amend Code – General By-laws – Betterment Assessments [not listed] TBM
17. Appropriate Money for Special Counsel Legal Expenses Rec. TBM
18. Sale of Land – 8 Devens Road (Map 42, Parcel 71) Rec. TBM
19. Acquire Property for Public Potable Water Main: 100 Lowell Road (Map 14, Parcel 9) Rec. TBM

1.Hear and Act on Reports of Town Officers and Committees

This is a routine article in which various committees and officers report on their progress.

2. Prior Year Bills

Determine how to pay bills from last fiscal year (ending June 30, 2017) that were not submitted prior to the end of the fiscal year. There are at least two bills that have been submitted after the end of the previous fiscal year (for costs incurred during the previous fiscal year) and their cost will be given at the meeting.

3. Transfer Funds to Capital Improvement Stabilization Fund

First, some background: the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is a state-wide strategy that is implemented at the Town level. This state government document about CIP explains:

A capital improvement program provides a blueprint for planning a community’s capital expenditures and is one of the most important responsibilities of local government officials. It coordinates community planning, financial capacity, and physical development.

A CIP is composed of two parts—a capital program and a capital budget. The capital program is a community planning and fiscal management tool that spans five to ten years. The capital program identifies capital items, which are typically defined as tangible assets or projects that cost more than a certain threshold (e.g., $25,000) and that have a minimal useful life span (such as five years), provides a planning schedule, and offers financing options. The capital budget is the upcoming year’s spending plan for capital items that is presented to the legislative body for approval.

There are several strategies that the Town can use to ensure that capital improvement remains consistently funded. One of these strategies is to create a stabilization fund specifically for capital improvement, as detailed in the same state government document previously mentioned:

Local officials can create and set aside money in multiple stabilization funds (M.G.L. c. 40, §5B and Informational Guideline Release (IGR) 04-201), outside of the general fund, for different purposes, including paying for all or portions of future capital projects. A two-thirds vote of town meeting is required to create a special stabilization fund as well as to appropriate money into and out of the fund. This type of fund can also be set up in conjunction with an enterprise fund.

So in this particular article, the Board of Selectmen is proposing to transfer any surplus funds (to the tune of $200K) into the capital improvement stabilization fund (which currently contains $2.28 million), where the money can then be used to make capital purchases and finance debts.

4. Appropriate Money to Stabilization Fund

Referring to a different fund than the one mentioned in the previous article, the Finance Committee proposed this article to increase the amount contained in a more general stabilization fund that is meant as a rainy day fund for town emergencies. The fund currently contains $2.26 million, and the Board of Selectmen is proposing to transfer additional money into it from surplus funds (amount and recommendation to be made at the meeting).

5. Transfer Funds to Other Post Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund

This article may also need some background: Back in June 2013, the Town Meeting unanimously decided to accept a section within Chapter 32B in the state law, which is meant to allow for insurance plans  (life, medical, dental, etc) for employees of the town. Section 20 states that

A … [town] … may establish an Other Post Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund, and may appropriate amounts to be credited to the fund. Any interest or other income generated by the fund shall be added to and become part of the fund. Amounts that a governmental unit receives as a sponsor of a qualified retiree prescription drug plan under 42 U.S.C. section 1395w-132 may be added to and become part of the fund. All monies held in the fund shall be segregated from other funds and shall not be subject to the claims of any general creditor of the city, town, district, county or municipal lighting plant.

Currently, this trust fund contains about $1.14 million, and the Board of Selectmen is proposing  to transfer an unnamed amount into it to pay for future health and pension costs for retirees.

6. Amend FY 2018 Operating Budget

The Board of Selectmen is proposing to add additional money (whether transferring existing surpluses or appropriating or raising it) to the Operating Budget that was voted on at the June 2017 Town Meeting.

7. Fund Repairs to Town Buildings

The Board of Selectmen is proposing to request a sum of $50,000 or less to spend on improvements and repairs to municipal buildings.

8. Fund Town Facilities Master Plan

This article proposes using funds (amount to be named at meeting) to create a Master Plan to prioritize and address current and future Town building needs.

9. Appropriate Supplemental Funds for J.T. Berry/Lowell Road Property

This article would provide supplemental funds (either from extra money allocated for articles from previous warrants, or via available funds in the budget, or by borrowing money or from taxes) for costs associated with maintaining and setting up the J. T. Berry/Lowell Road property (click here to watch an aerial flyover of the property). At the Special Town Meeting last March, several articles were passed related to plans for the property.

10. Appropriate Funds for Study and Design – Water/Wastewater Connection

This article seeks funding to evaluate the possibility/ability of carrying out different water & waste water plans. Activities may include the design, engineering, surveying, and additional cost estimation to plan for the long-term needs of our Town for potable water and wastewater.

11. Authorize Intermunicipal Agreement with Town of Andover and Home-Rule Petition for Potable Water

This article would allow the Board of Selectmen to enter into a long-term agreement with Andover to receive potable water from Andover. The agreement would depend on the results of a feasibility survey and the specifics of the agreement would be up to the Board of Selectmen to negotiate with Andover.

12. Fund Construction of Pump Station, Reading and North Reading Water System Improvements for MWRA Water Interconnection and Acceptance of Water from the MWRA

This article pertains to joining the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Many towns around us receive all or part of their water services through the MWRA: Reading, Wakefield, Lynnfield, Woburn, Wilmington. As written in the warrant:

The article would authorize supplemental funding for an interconnection to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority for potable water, which was approved at the June 2016 Town Meeting and funded at the June 2016 and 2017 Town Meetings, and authorize the Board of Selectmen to execute an agreement to pay assessments associated with joining the MWRA.

13. Authorize Intermunicipal Agreement with Town of Reading and Home-Rule Petition for Potable Water

This article would allow the Board of Selectmen to enter into a long-term agreement with Reading to receive potable water from Reading. The agreement would depend on the results of a feasibility survey and the specifics of the agreement would be up to the Board of Selectmen to negotiate with Reading.

14. Authorize Article 97 Legislation for Potable Water Interconnection with Town of Reading

This article proposes to acquire (by purchase, gift, or eminent domain) some land from Reading (shown in black on the image to the right – land parcels on either side of Mill Street just north of the Ipswich River). The land would be used to construct a water main and related facilities for the purposes of providing potable water to our Town.

15. Amend Code – General By-laws  – Social Host Responsibility

The concept of Social Host Responsibility means that someone hosting a party or event in a non-commercial setting may incur some liability for serving their guests intoxicants; if the guests are underage, for example, and/or if the guests then commit a crime or cause death or injuries to others as a result of consuming an intoxicant. Traditionally, these types of laws have focused on alcohol; now they are being updated to include marijuana, which was recently legalized in Massachusetts.

These updates to the Town By-laws mean that, in addition to whatever penalties exist in the state law, the Town of North Reading will impose additional fines ($100-$300) on social hosts who are found to have provided alcohol or marijuana to underage guests.

16. Amend Code – General By-laws – Betterment Assessments

This article would modify existing Town By-laws regarding betterments. Betterments are improvements to real estate made by the public or someone other than the owner, improvements which increase the value of the real estate. For this article, the focus is on private streets, streets, storm drains, public water supply, and sewers. This article would update the text of the by-laws so that the Town can assess up to 100% of the cost of betterments to land owners rather than 50%. This will allow betterments to proceed even if the Town does not have sufficient funds.

17. Appropriate Money for Special Counsel Legal Expenses

From the warrant:

This article would provide additional funds for legal expenses related to the Secondary School Building Project.

18. Sale of Land – 8 Devons Road (Map 42, Parcel 71)

This article would authorize the Board of Selectmen to sell this parcel of land by soliciting requests for proposals.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 6.47.57 AM

19. Acquire Property for Public Potable Water Main: 100 Lowell Road (Map 14, Parcel 9)

This article would authorize the Board of Selectmen to acquire (by purchase, gift, swap or eminent domain) the property at 100 Lowell Road, to be used for constructing a water main to serve the adjacent property.

 

See you at the meeting!

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