May 9, 2022, Town Meeting
A Summary of Warrant Articles up for discussion and vote
Here is a summary of the articles on the Warrant for May 2022 Town Meeting. Please note these high-level summaries are simplified and not intended to take the place of any of the official materials from the Town Clerk. All information, including the Warrant and the Warrant Backup, can be found on the Town Clerk’s website.
This document might look long, but it’s a lot shorter than the 250+ pages of materials I needed to go through to get these to you - and that your precinct representatives are going through in anticipation of the meeting! Thanks to all my fellow TMMs and other residents, including Doug Davison, for helping me flesh these all out for you.
Article 1 - This just says Town Meeting will hear reports from town officers and committees.
Transportation committee: Rick Parker, chair, gave a brief summary of what they have been doing to assess our community’s transportation needs.
Article 2 - Authorizes the use of funds to pay outstanding FY2022 expenses and close out the year.(WITHDRAWN)
Article 3 - Authorizes the funding of the FY 2023 budget. This is a HUGE article, and it is accompanied by its own separate budget book, which can also be found here, split into School (226 pages) and Town (all other departments, 117 pages).
Full operating budget passed after discussion of Assessors, Board of Registrars, Planning Board, Fire, Trash Removal, and Negotiated Settlements.
Article 4 - Transfers money from our Free Cash to our Stabilization Fund. Free Cash is money left over after the fiscal year’s accounts are trued up, and the Stabilization fund is a kind of rainy-day fund established to take care of any unexpected expenses that come up. some of the later capital articles are requesting to be paid from the stabilization fund.(WITHDRAWN) Article 5 - Transfers money from our Free Cash to our OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) fund, which pays for things like health insurance for retired town employees.(WITHDRAWN)
Article 6 - How much is allowed to be in our revolving accounts, which are accounts that have both income and expenditures, and essentially fund themselves. Examples of this are the rain barrels, which the town buys and residents buy from the town, or the Ice Palace Improvement and Maintenance, which is funded by Ice Palace Revenues. At a certain point the excess goes into the town’s free cash, so we are essentially deciding what that amount is. - PASSED
Article 7 - This is another big and huge one, and I’m not going to go into detail here, but these are capital articles - one-time expenditures that will come from one place or another. There is a capital request form for most of these, and backup for each one, ranging from a playground diagram to a quote from Trane for HVAC upgrades to a letter from the police department to accompany their request. If you have questions about any of these, I highly recommend checking out that backup document.
7-01 ($20,000) - Installing a fence at Chestnut Hill Cemetery - HELD/PASSED
7-02 ($200,000) - Storm Cleaning/Drainage Improvements to try and mitigate residential flooding - PASSED
7-03 ($130,00)) - Grandview Ave Pump Station Design to replace deteriorating components - HELD/PASSED
7-04 ($593,000) - Vehicle replacement program - Our DPW vehicles are on replacement schedules, and several are coming up for replacement. They’ll be replaced with more modern vehicles with better capabilities (i.e. plows). - PASSED
7-05 ($700,000) - Phase 2 Communications Plan for the Fire Department - This is to replace outdated equipment (which is 30 years old!). - PASSED
7-06 ($439,500) - Records Management and Dispatch System for Fire and Police - This is to institute a digital records management and integrated dispatch system, to modernize recordkeeping and improve responsiveness. HELD/PASSED
7-07 ($63,219) - Network Security Updates - Our network switches were end-of-life in 2016, and we need new ones. - PASSED
7-08 ($222,870) - Body Camera Storage - We got a grant for police body cameras, but we need more storage and want to buy extended warranties to protect the equipment. - PASSED
7-09 ($35,000) - Transportation Study Route 3A - We want to see if there is a way to modernize and improve the safety of this corridor. The study will look at things like pedestrian access, accessibility for people with disabilities, and bike accessibility. - PASSED
7-10 ($50,000) - Pickup Truck with Plow for Recreation because the one we have is rusted out and doesn’t have a plow. The new one will be added to the snow cleanup fleet. - HELD/PASSED
7-11 ($230,000) - Simonds Park Basketball Court Renovation because it’s in need of new lighting and surfacing to eliminate safety hazards. - HELD/PASSED
7-12 ($290,000) - Francis Wyman Playground (There’s no capital request form here, and I’m not familiar with FW, so I’m not sure the reasoning for replacing it. There are some estimates and proposed layouts.) - HELD/PASSED
7-13 ($150,000) - Computer Science For All Curriculum Materials (There’s no capital request form here, either. These forms are so helpful for giving background for why this request is being made at this point in time.) - PASSED
7-14 ($108,000) - HVAC Controller Upgrade (Again, no request form) - HELD/PASSED
7-15 ($65,000) - Pine Glen Bathroom Repairs (No request form here either) - HELD/PASSED
7-16 ($500,000) - Pine Glen HVAC (broken record here…) - HELD/PASSED
7-17 ($70,000) - Burlington Sports Field Master Plan - I have, of course, heard the complaints from many residents about the condition of our sports fields. So we are looking to contract with an organization that can assess our needs and help make a plan to meet those needs. - HELD/PASSED
7-18 ($450,000) - BHS Music Floor Reconstruction (I’m just going to stop saying it - no capital request forms for any of the school requests, so I can’t really editorialize much.) - HELD/PASSED - Roll Call 57-51
7-19 ($160,000) - Fox Hill Portables Repairs - PASSED
7-20 ($110,000) - Scoreboards for Sports Fields - HELD/PASSED
7-21 ($145,000) - Activity Bus and Utility Vehicles) -HELD/PASSED
7-22 ($220,000) - MSMS Field Bleachers - HELD/PASSED
7-23 ($25,000) - Visitor Control Access system -HELD/PASSED
Article 8 ($1,090,873) - Accept Chapter 90 funds from the state for infrastructure maintenance including paving. PASSED
Article 9 ($77,975) - MWRA I/I Debt Service this is to pay back loans from MWRA to help limit our inflow and infiltration problems with the sewer system. Ideally the only water in the sewer pipes would be sewage. Unfortunately sewer systems end up with inflow (water put there illegally - think sump pumps piped into a home's sewer line) and infiltration (water that gets in the system when ground water leaks in through cracks or old porous cement pipes). All of our sewage goes into a larger pipe in Woburn, and from there to Deer Island in the harbor. There is a meter at the Woburn line and we get charged for every gallon of water/sewage that crosses into Woburn. So we pay to treat storm water. The state requires we try to remediate I/I problems to limit stress on the system and to prevent waste. The MWRA offers a program where we borrow money at 0% interest, then they grant us 75% of the amount borrowed and we pay back the 25% over 10 years at 0%. This annual article pays that loan payment. (Thanks to Doug for that amazing explanation - I didn’t want to overwhelm y’all with words, but he’s just so good at explaining stuff I couldn’t not include them! Look for more of his explanations down below ⬇⬇⬇) - PASSED
Article 10 ($6,271,100)- Annual article to pay the sewer bill - PASSED
Article 11 ($952,243) - This is to pay for the MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority) connection, so we can be a part of that larger water provision resource. - PASSED
Article 12 ($500,000) - This is a tricky one - because of PFAS in Burlington’s water supply, we were required to open the MWRA connection fully, earlier than expected. This water costs money, which we are asking to backfill the budget out of free cash. We are likely to get a grant from the state to offset some of this amount. - PASSED
Article 13 ($3,500,000) - This is a biannual vote to fund paving. The number this year is more than in previous years, and we plan to use the excess to do some sidewalk paving, mostly filling in unpaved spaces between existing sidewalks this time around. - PASSED
Article 14 ($1,100,000) - This is to fund the construction of the Partridge Lane sewage pump station. We are gradually replacing all of our pump stations (which number in the teens), and with each annual Town Meeting Warrant we request funds to design one (which we did with the Grandview Ave. station in article 7-3 this year) and to construct the one we designed last year. So last year we requested funds to design the Partridge Lane pump station and this year we are requesting the funds to construct it. Next year, then, we can anticipate a funds request to construct the Grandview Ave station and to design another one. - PASSED
Article 15 ($585,000) - There’s a fee on each cable bill that then goes to fund community programming, so this article transfers those fees to BCAT because they provide our community programming. - PASSED
Article 16 - Transfer from Receipts Reserved Account for Ambulance Services - I think this one has been withdrawn, and there’s no backup for it.(WITHDRAWN)
Articles 17 - 23 are union contracts - there is a Negotiated Settlements line in the budget that covers the difference between the current payroll and what it will likely be after new contracts are settled. That line also covers some vacation buy back from retirees and maybe some other stuff. So, once contracts are approved these will be transfers from one line to another and don't change the bottom line budget. None of them are settled yet. The money sits in this line until it is needed.
Articles 17, 18, 19, 22, and 23 WITHDRAWN
Articles 20 & 21 to ratify police Command Officer and Patrolmen contracts were moved. Funds were already appropriated via the negotiated settlements line item, so no new money is at stake. - PASSED
Article 24 ($TBD) - This is the most feel-good item each year, and just allows us to accept money from the will of Marshall Simonds to support the park. 😊 This year, the money will go toward the tree house (along with a $100,000 donation from the Gillingham family)! - PASSED
Article 25 ($40,000) - We need to hire someone who can help us with coordination of affordable housing services, including state reporting and monitoring, etc. It looks like this will be paid for by an increase in demolition fees. - PASSED
Article 26 ($40,000) - We are going to fund the entire 4th of July parade this year (we usually split the costs with local businesses) to get it going again. - PASSED
Article 27 ($33,000) - The Historical Commission is requesting a shed to have behind West School before the big 225th anniversary in 2024. They could store some items there and also have some outdoor display items. The backup here is extensive and impressive! - PASSED
Article 28 ($TBD) - 119 S. Bedford Street. The town would like to exercise its right of first refusal for the property at this address for the purpose of keeping it in our affordable housing inventory. - PASSED
Article 29 ($20,000) - To fund the Sculpture Park. - PASSED
Article 30 (CPI Adjustment for Elderly) & 31 (Elderly and Disabled Taxation Aid Fund) - I’ve gotta be honest: the backup for this one wasn’t entirely helpful. With these articles, we’re just voting to accept some state statutes that I think help residents who are elderly and/or disabled. The backup was just a copy of the statute but it wasn’t clear from reading that what the impact of accepting it would be. I hope someone can help explain these, either or before or during Town Meeting! - PASSED
Article 32 - To see if the Town will adopt the Community Preservation Act. - PASSED
The CPA adds a surcharge to real estate taxes to create a fund from which we can draw for projects supporting open spaces, affordable housing, historical preservation, and outdoor recreation.
CPA at the state level is already supported by a portion of real-estate transactions. This allows the state to offer a partial match for these projects listed above.
This article is only requesting the adoption of the CPA to be added to the November ballot so the voters at large can decide whether or not to adopt it.
Article 33 - Requesting an easement at Winter Street. I’m not going to summarize more, since it’s not happening at this time!(WITHDRAWN)
General Bylaw Article
Article 34 - Amendment to a General Bylaw Article regarding setting the compensation for the secretary. The bylaw had incorrectly stated who sets the compensation for the secretary/recording clerk. The amendment was to fix that wording. - PASSED
Zoning Bylaw Articles
You’ve likely heard a lot about these if you’ve been reading the buzz or paying attention to the meetings. Quick summaries follow each article; backup is separate from the main document and linked in the Article name.
Articles 35 and 36 - These are the Roger’s Piano Articles. The owner of the parcel of land there would like to build some condos, but currently the zoning doesn’t permit multifamily housing. Article 35 is to add multifamily zoning and article 36 is, to zone the property into that zone, provided TM votes yes on 35.
After a 2.5 hour conversation and a roll call vote, article 35 FAILS 45-55. Article 36 is therefore WITHDRAWN.
Article 37 - The owner of Network Drive at Northwest Park would like to build some additional buildings in the (largely unused) parking area to accommodate the influx in business. - PASSED
Articles 38 and 39 - I am missing backup for these articles (My issue, I’m sure), so I’m going off memory here. The property owners of two properties near Burger King (56 Middlesex Turnpike and 5 Adams Street) want to amend the zoning from General Business and General Industrial, respectively, to Innovation. - PASSED
Article 40 - This article seeks to amend the Zoning bylaws to require foundations to be 24 inches or more above the Estimated Seasonal High Groundwater Table. It is in Zoning Articles because it is a dimensional requirement much like setbacks from property lines.- WITHDRAWN
Just one last note - at Town Meeting, with each Warrant Article, the Moderator will ask how each committee voted on each article. So, I know from my conversations with members of the other Boards in town (and anyone who watches the meetings also knows) that some of these articles had more discussion than others. If there is a dissenting vote, they’ll usually explain what the discussion was about to give town meeting a more complete picture of the issue at hand.
I hope this is helpful!