BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Natick Town Hall
March 12, 2008
The meeting was called to order by the Chair Carol A. Gloff at 7:00 p.m.
PRESENT: Carol A. Gloff, Charles M. Hughes, Joshua Ostroff, John Ciccariello, Kristine Van Amsterdam
ALSO PRESENT: Martha L. White, Town Administrator; Donna Challis, Secretary
INTERVIEWS FOR APPOINTMENT TO THE REVENUE ENHANCEMENT AND EXPENSE CONTROL TASK FORCES
a. Lori Rosen
Lori Rosen stated that she was a 22 year resident of Natick who retired last September from over 30 years in the corporate world and was now working part-time and became a member of the Council on Aging. She was interested in the Expense Control Task Force because she thought her experience in the corporate world could be an asset. She had been in IT so she had a lot of analysis problem solving and had also been a line manager so she had to analyze budgets. Not being super close to the Town’s budget she thought she could give a fresh look.
Mr. Hughes inquired as to any preconceived ideas or cost cutting ideas and Ms. Rosen responded that she had no definite idea, but was thinking of ways to use technology to improve functions. In her opinion the best way to approach would be to understand what the different departments do.
If not elected to the Expense Control, Mr. Hughes asked if she would be willing to serve on the Revenue Enhancement. Ms. Rosen indicated that she would.
b. Lori Andrews
Lori Andrews told the Board she was a 15 year resident with two daughters that went through the School system. She was Vice-President of Financial and Productions Operations at Liberty Mutual and was responsible for billing and systems and production underwriting. She didn’t have any Town experience but had been asked to think about joining because she had done a lot of expense control and had a track record of reducing expenses in a number of different ways.
When asked if she had any preconceived ideas, Ms. Andrew’s reply was, “not a one”. The way she tackled things was to go in and ask a lot of questions.
Noting there was one opening on the Expense Control, Mr. Hughes asked if Ms. Andrews would be willing to serve on the other task force. Ms. Andrews said she would but thought her background was better suited to expenses. She had really only been on the expense control side and not revenue generating.
c. Paul Joseph
Paul Joseph stated that he was applying for the Revenue Enhancement Task Force. Primarily he focused on sales and marketing and was working as a
INTERVIEWS FOR APPOINTMENT TO THE REVENUE ENHANCEMENT AND EXPENSE CONTROL TASK FORCES (contd)
management consultant. He had extensive experience using research based consulting and was currently self-employed as a consultant. He thought he would bring outside the box thinking to the task force. He would like to see strategic types of things initiated that would generate long-term revenue. One possibility was establishing a sister city relationship.
Mr. Ciccariello found the idea of a sister city intriguing and inquired as to how that would be pursued. Mr. Joseph advised there was an organization in place to assist with that and he thought there were opportunities to explore. He would also like to see the Town aligning with the School system.
d. Stephen Roche
Stephen Roche told the Board he was applying for the Revenue Enhancement Task Force as he had experience to bring. He was a former Town Meeting member and former Vice-Chair of the Historic District Commission and currently serving on the Elderly and Disabled Taxation Fund Committee. In addition to being an attorney he was active at the State House in representing Town Clerks. He had in mind a few statutes the Town was not taking advantage of or the possibility of someone like Siemens doing an energy audit and basically financing it at no cost to the Town. Another area was taking a look at how the town managed the tax title.
Mr. Ciccariello was interested in the comment regarding energy audits and asked if Mr. Roche had been involved in Belmont’s program. Mr. Roche stated that he was not. At the time he was working with the pipe workers. He had not had any direct involvement in any community, but had done some work on legislation at the State House and tracked several communities, most recently Quincy.
Citing the incredible array of talent of people who had come forward who had not participated in Town government before, Mr. Hughes hated to turn this offer of free work away and moved to expand the citizen-at-large positions to five. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
Mr. Hughes moved to appoint Lori Rosen and Lori Andrews to the Expense Control Task Force. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
Mr. Hughes then moved to appoint Stephen Roche, E. Scott Laughlin, and Paul Joseph to the Revenue Enhancement Task Force. Seconded by Mr. Ciccariello and unanimously voted.
Mr. Ostroff thanked everyone who applied, noting that he envisioned a robust process. He was confident the Town would take any and all suggestions for increasing revenues and controlling costs.
APPOINTMENT OF SMART GROWTH REPORTING OFFICER
Ms. White prefaced the discussion by noting this was a requirement Community Development Director Patrick Reffett brought to her attention in accordance with 40R state requirements. Someone had to be appointed as the Smart Growth Reporting Officer and Mr. Reffett agreed to serve.
Mr. Reffett explained the State asked that a reporting officer be appointed as part of their statutory requirements. Now that the Town had the paperwork that allowed us to ask the State for the first installment of
APPOINTMENT OF SMART GROWTH REPORTING OFFICER (contd)
funds that will be associated with the Smart Growth on the Natick Paperboard site, an appointment would have to be made.
Noting the first installment was about $200,000, Mr. Hughes inquired if there was anything else that had to be done. Mr. Reffett was not aware of anything.
When asked if the rest of the payments were contingent upon the buildings getting built, Mr. Reffett advised that payment would be per unit per building and equated to $3,000 per unit. There had been 150 units but one of the project changes would be to keep 12 units along North Main Street as town homes that weren’t in the Smart Growth district.
Mr. Ciccariello inquired as to the status of the project and was told by Mr. Reffett that it had been on hold for awhile based on the industrial legacy of industrial use for the past 100 years. There’s been contamination of ground water and with regard to the testing there has been a lot of back and forth between the land owner and the developer who doesn’t want to deal with it. He (Mr. Reffett) was given to understand they expect to have a new design plan to the Planning Board within the next month to month and a half. It was getting back on track.
Mr. Ciccariello then inquired if Mr. Reffett had seen any of the 21E reports and if there had been any bleed off to Town property. Mr. Reffett stated that he hadn’t seen any of the reports. Environmental Compliance Officer Robert Bois has seen them from time to time and he (Mr. Reffett) knew some of the material was the type that tends to lock up.
Mr. Ciccariello questioned the requirement to submit verification of motor vehicle excise taxes and Mr. Reffett responded that he would do what the law required. He pointed out that a lot of the language in the legislation dealt with a school refund program. That was a 40S. Natick had a 40R. When the legislation was created it was created for both a 40S and a 40R and he intended to pursue the 40R specifically.
Should the project not proceed, Mr. Ostroff asked if the money being received was at risk. Mr. Reffett noted that the Town had not received any funding as of yet, but getting those funds was not associated with the development per se. It was associated with the rezoning. In follow-up Mr. Ostroff commented that should something else ever be developed under other zoning, the money was still not at risk. Mr. Reffett stated that was correct.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes to appoint Patrick Reffett as the Smart Growth Reporting Officer to comply with the 40R reporting requirements. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
WEST NATICK FIRE STATION STUDY COMMITTEE REPORT
Articles 17, 18, 19
Ms. Van Amsterdam reviewed the West Natick Fire Station Study Committee Report. She noted the Board voted to establish the West Natick Fire Study Committee in November 2007. A tremendous amount of time was spent looking through Town commissioned reports on the Fire Department, emergency medical services, and the West Natick facility. The committee’s charge was to review the findings and recommendations of the fire services studies conducted by the MMA Consulting Group, the Maguire Group, and the Natick
Fire Department. They reviewed the current facilities at West Natick and site conditions and looked at the feasibility of renovating vs relocating to adjacent Town-owned land. Brief updates were provided to the Board when the Board was asked to approve the submission of three articles.
Ms. Van Amsterdam advised that the committee received information on the department resources and practices and focused specifically on medical and non-medical service calls in West Natick. They reviewed equipment and staffing necessary to respond and in doing so felt it was important to recognize the West Natick station was part of a town-wide facility. Ms. Van Amsterdam emphasized that the Committee remained vigilant in its charge to address the adequacy and capacity of the West Natick station.
Continuing, Ms. Van Amsterdam advised the Committee discussed the studies’ findings and recommendations and identified the following issues related to its charge:
· The West Natick area has been and is expected to continue to be a focus of significant development. Major projects include the recently opened expansion of the Natick Collection, including the associated 215-unit condominium complex and future retail expansion on Route 9 and a high rise 183 unit apartment building under construction at the Cloverleaf Mall.
· Pending major projects in the West Natick area include a proposed high rise hotel and 400+ additional high rise apartments on Chrysler Road, and potential development at the self-storage facility directly north of the Natick Collection. These projects increase the transient and permanent populations in the area.
· The expanded mall complex is estimated to attract 10,000 people daily into the West Natick area. This development is projected to increase fire department calls by 10% excluding the impact of pending development.
· The construction of underground garages and multi-story buildings has created complex firefighting, rescue and medical response challenges.
· Historical emergency response calls in District 4, the area of Natick in which Engine Company 4 is the first to respond, show a steady increase in calls. This trend is supported by recent response call data.
· The largest call growth in District 4 is for EMT assistance. Both Natick ambulances are currently housed at the Central Station, and only one ambulance is fully staffed.
· A full staffed ambulance and ladder truck will ultimately be needed at Station 4 in addition to Engine 4 to meet changing and growing public safety challenges.
Given the Committee’s agreement that a staffed ambulance and ladder truck should be housed with Engine 4 at Station 4, the Committee reviewed the current Station 4 facility. In addition to the public safety needs of the area, the Committee also looked at the site upon which the current facility was located. Through the efforts of the Maguire Group some money had been approved by Town Meeting such that the Chief and Town Administrator would seek to look at the existing site and identify any deficiencies and put forward a preliminary proposal for a new fire station on Town owned land that is adjacent to the station. The Committee identified a number of issues related to the renovation of the existing site:
WEST NATICK FIRE STATION STUDY COMMITTEE REPORT
Articles 17, 18, 19 (contd)
· Station 4 was built in 1955 and has two apparatus bays. At the present time Engine 4, a pumper, an aluminum rescue boat and a State of Massachusetts Hazardous Materials Response Truck were housed at the station. The existing bays were too small in all dimensions to accommodate modern fire apparatus.
· The structure’s location has a number of deficiencies. The most significant of these was a dangerously short apron entrance with limited sight distance into a merge of a one way ramp from Route 9 West onto Speen Street South.
· The Route 9 and Speen Street interchange geometry requires Engine 4 to take a complicated and time consuming route to Route 9 West and the Sherwood Plaza area.
· Renovation of the structure is precluded since the distance from Speen Street to the rear property line of the current site cannot accommodate new apparatus bays and extended apron requirements. Furthermore, given the extensive nature of renovations required, the cost of renovation would exceed that of new construction, and would require temporary housing for Station 4 staff and equipment.
The committee also identified the following issues related to the construction of a new station on town and state-owned land adjacent to the current Station 4:
· Need for working with the State to resolve deed restrictions on town-owned land where a new station would be situated.
· Need to acquire an additional parcel of state-owned land between the Pet World site and town-owned land
· Need for environmental testing on land where new station would be situated.
· Need for maximum mitigation funding from projects which will have a public safety impact on West Natick. A new Station 4 would primarily be funded via mitigation monies. Mitigation funding cannot, however, fund operating budgets.
With respect to funding, Ms. Van Amsterdam noted there were mitigation funds from the Mall and other West Natick projects and the Committee came to the conclusion they would not ask the Board of Selectmen for a debt exclusion to build the facility. The existing mitigation money could be used and Community Development Director Patrick Reffett has already alerted the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board to the fact they would like them to consider the West Natick fire station to be a high priority of any future discussions of projects in the area and put the mitigation funds toward that station. It was recognized that mitigation funds would not be used to fund operational budgets and it was further recognized that the staffing and apparatus requirements that might be needed to respond to the increased demand for
emergency and non-emergency calls would increase the department’s budget.
Ms. Van Amsterdam advised that the Maguire Group put together a report that went room-by-room and recommended a 15,000 square foot building estimated at a cost of about $15 million. The Committee went through the document but did not accept that document that any future building be a specific size.
In conclusion, Ms. Van Amsterdam outlined the next steps as recommended by the Committee:
· A Building Committee with appropriate expertise should be established if Town Meeting provides authorization to develop a conceptual design.
· A mitigation funding strategy for an expanded Station 4 should be incorporated into negotiations with West Natick developers
· A funding strategy for staffing an expanded Station 4 should be pursued in concert with building design
· The ultimate disposition of the current Station 4 structure should be considered as part of the long term plan.
Mr. Hughes assumed that renovations and expansion of the building wouldn’t work and Ms. Van Amsterdam confirmed that to be correct.
Mr. Hughes then noted the Mall paid $900,000 and a $600,000 betterment that probably wouldn’t be paid until permits pulled. Was there anything that had to be done now to the station because the men will be continuing to work there until there was a new station?
WEST NATICK FIRE STATION STUDY COMMITTEE REPORT
Articles 17, 18, 19 (contd)
Ms. Van Amsterdam advised that $43,000-45,000 was approved by Town Meeting. Between the Chief and the DPW specific improvements were put forward and her sense was that those “improvements” really were necessary just to try to make the building habitable. In terms of any additional funds to make it habitable, the Committee talked about the deficiencies but didn’t come up with a funding plan for any specific improvements.
With regard to the recommendation to add two bays for the ambulance, Mr. Hughes inquired if that included keeping the hazmat vehicle. Ms. Van Amsterdam responded that the Maguire Group recommended adding four bays. The Committee didn’t debate that and assumed all existing apparatus would need to be used. The Committee assumed the hazmat vehicle would stay but would defer to the Chief.
There had been a lot of talk about the number of calls and Mr. Hughes questioned if the Committee had looked into whether the increase was Mall driven. Based on a review of all the existing reports, Ms. Van Amsterdam noted that the expectation was the major increase in any call form (emergency or non-emergency) would come from the Mall. What the Committee saw was an up tick, but they only had three months of data for the Mall and given the economic conditions she wasn’t certain all of the up tick from the Mall was seen. What they saw was that it was spread out across the West Natick area and it couldn’t be said that it was just the Mall specifically.
Mr. Hughes requested a definition of the West Natick area that was served by Station 4, and Fire Chief Gene Sabourin responded that it covered from Route 135 to Route 27, from South Main to West behind the skating rink, Speen Street toward Sherborn to Framingham including all of Natick Village, Hartford Street, the section by the Mall and over to and including the State park. Areas overlapped as it got closer to the center. It was a considerable area.
In looking at the incident, Mr. Ciccariello pointed out there seemed to be a significant spike in the medical response for District 1 from April and May
2007 to July, August, and September. Likewise District 4 had a substantial spike in July, August, and September and he wondered if anyone had looked at that trend to see what type of impact the Mall had on that. Those were the months the Mall was pushing to complete their projects. Were there a lot of incidents during the Mall construction.
Chief Sabourin advised there were some medical calls to the Mall related to construction but very few.
Mr. Ciccariello then pointed out that in District 2 there seemed to be a major spike in non-medical calls and he wondered if the Department ever looked at what was causing these types of trends. Chief Sabourin didn’t think it could be pinpointed. Mr. Ostroff added that looking at the percentage trend in District 2 could be misleading because of the small numbers.
Relative to the Mall mitigation, Mr. Ciccariello noted that the funds presently available would not pay for the total construction costs of a new fire station. Did the Committee discuss how to raise the additional funds? Given that the Mall was almost built out and Cloverleaf was almost built out, unless Boston Scientific decided to do major renovations he didn’t see a lot more coming out of West Natick unless development started behind the industrial park.
Ms. Van Amsterdam noted that the Committee had talked extensively about that. While the hope was to leverage as much mitigation money as possible, the Committee was cognizant that it would fall short and asked Ms. White to put the station on the five year capital plan. They discussed the need to try to make certain all responsible bodies – the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, Town Meeting – understood this was a high priority for the Town and should receive funding from any capital money expended by the Town. As far as a timeline, obviously it would be as quickly as possible but the Committee was fully cognizant there were many legitimate capital needs and would continue to push for this to be a top priority in the years moving forward such that we can accumulate enough money to build a new station.
Mr. Ciccariello inquired as to the dollar figure and was told by Ms. White that of the $900,000 in cash (from the Mall), $300,000 was received to date and specifically dedicated to Station 4. Another $600,000 was dedicated
WEST NATICK FIRE STATION STUDY COMMITTEE REPORT
Articles 17, 18, 19 (contd)
from betterments. Asked if there had been any expenditure of the $300,000 received, Ms. White advised that $40,000+ was being used to make the station habitable and $7,500 was used for the Maguire group study.
Mr. Ciccariello then inquired if the Committee discussed how much funding would be required for the three articles. Ms. Van Amsterdam stated they had. With regard to the environmental assessment, Ms. White, Environmental Compliance Officer Robert Bois and Mr. Ostroff came up with some number and would go forward with a budget of $20,000 but it was believed an aerial review of the property could be done for about $1,000.
Mr. Ostroff said he would request $20,000 in mitigation funds but in the best case scenario about $1,000 would be spent on the overview. There was some issue whether there had been a gas station on the site.
Ms. Van Amsterdam noted that she spoke with Community Development Director Patrick Reffett and on the property owned by the State there was nothing at this juncture coming out of Mass Highway. In the past the practice has been to cover those costs. She didn’t have a definitive dollar figure.
Ms. Van Amsterdam continued that Article 19 sought funding for a preliminary design for Station 4. The specific amount had yet to be determined but it would be between $50,000 and $100,000.
Mr. Hughes commented that it wasn’t known if there would be a response from Mass Highway in time for Town Meeting. Ms. Van Amsterdam noted that some inquiries could be made as there was a need to have a ballpark number.
Mr. Hughes asked if the State would go through the regular DCAM process. Ms. White thought they would go through that process but for the folks at Mass Highway and the pending Town Meeting, they were working to expedite at least some response whether the proposal would go anywhere. In follow-up Mr. Hughes inquired if the proposal included lifting the deed restriction or if the Town got the property, the deed restriction wouldn’t need to be lifted. Ms. Van Amsterdam advised that the State had been asked to address both.
It was Mr. Ostroff understanding that when the letter was sent to the State the end of February there was expectation from Mass Highway that there would be about a 30 day turnaround before they got back to the Town.
Mr. Ciccariello noted the West Natick Fire Study Committee was here tonight, but did not have a posted public meeting. He didn’t want to put the subcommittee in a position of speaking for the whole committee, but questioned if it was proper for other members to speak. Ms. Gloff advised that the members could speak as individuals, but couldn’t deliberate.
On the question of increased responses for Engine 4, Vice-Chair of the West Natick Fire Study Committee member Al Doig advised that the Committee looked at some cluster data and clearly there were two major areas where the calls were clustered. One was around the Mall, but he couldn’t say it was the Mall per se and the other was Sherwood Village the retirement property.
Mr. Ostroff added that about l/2 of the calls in Natick were in District 4. It was the fastest growing over any other district. Referring to the data, Ms. Gloff responded that she didn’t see this as l/2 the calls. Mr. Ostroff clarified that it was over 40% and growing. More than any other district this had the most calls and the highest increase.
With regard to an aerial topo, Mr. Ciccariello stated that based on his experience it was his gut feeling that it would cost between $1,000 and $1,500. Ms. White noted that by aerial it was actually a table top – more of an historic look at all data available.
Mr. Ciccariello thought that what was being talked about was probably a Phase I 21E and he believed that would cost between $15,000-20,000. Ms. White responded that in her experience it hadn’t been quite that costly, but if it got into a soil analysis it would get into some money.
Mr. Ciccariello pointed out that what was being talked about was doing an environmental assessment of property already purchased and attempting to get permission from the State to go onto abutting property. He knew the hope was that the initial 21E wouldn’t find anything, but if there was, funds needed to be available to do the next phase.
WEST NATICK FIRE STATION STUDY COMMITTEE REPORT
Articles 17, 18, 19 (contd)
Ms. Van Amsterdam gave assurance that the Committee was well aware that if something was found particularly on Town owned land, the Town was responsible for cleaning up what was found. Mr. Bois felt there was a series of tests that could be done for small money to do this Phase I, and then if something was found there was an obligation to clean it up. She didn’t know the timeframe if it (clean up) must be immediate or go back to Town Meeting.
Ms. White explained this was viewed as a step-by-step process. If the environmental assessment on the adjoining property came back with frightening results, there will be a pause. Each step was contingent on a favorable result of the one before it.
Mr. Ciccariello clarified that he was not objecting to the article, but if a Phase I 21E was started and some issues were found, he would like to make sure some funds were available to make it to the next assessment so the issues below ground were clearly understood. Whoever did the work under Article 19 had to know what kind of issues there were.
Assuming Phase I cost $15,000, Mr. Hughes inquired if anyone had a sense of what kind of cost there would be to start Phase II to determine what, if anything, was on Town land. Ms. Van Amsterdam advised that in conversations with Mr. Bois he felt $20,000 would be sufficient if it had to move to Phase II.
Mr. Ciccariello stated that he was comfortable with $15,000-20,000 if an entire assessment had to be done, but he was not comfortable with finding someone to do the first step of the assessment for $1,000. He would be comfortable with asking for $25,000.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes to support $20,000 in Mall mitigation for Article 17. Seconded by Mr. Ciccariello and unanimously voted.
Mr. Ostroff commented that more information was needed from Mr. Bois to increase the comfort level that $20,000 was sufficient, and Ms. Van Amsterdam offered to follow-up with Mr. Bois.
With respect to Article 18, Mr. Ciccariello felt if there was an interest in securing the property the Board should approach the legislators to find out what opportunities there may be to get the property at a discount rate.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Mr. Ciccariello, the Board unanimously voted to support Article 18.
Mr. Ciccariello moved to support Article 19 for the preliminary design of the West Natick Fire Station in the amount of $100,000. Seconded by Mr. Hughes and unanimously voted.
Speaking to his motion, Mr. Ciccariello stated that to get proper information he thought a soil engineering site survey and cost estimate were needed. He thought $100,000 was sufficient, but didn’t think $50,000 would do the job.
Asked if the articles had been presented to Town Meeting, Ms. Van Amsterdam advised they were scheduled to meet with the Finance Committee on March 20.
Mr. Hughes reminded the Board that recently the Board took a position that when a committee completed its work it was dissolved and he wanted to be sure that procedure got followed because if these articles were successful, it would then become a building committee.
TOWN MODERAZTOR: ESTABLISH CHARTER & BY-LAW REVIEW COMMITTEE: ARTICLE 34
Town Moderator Frank Foss advised that the by-laws required a Charter and By-Law Review Committee to be established within five years of when the last committee was dissolved.
Mr. Ostroff noted there was a Review Committee less than five years ago, but Mr. Foss explained that was for a very specific purpose. The focus of this committee would be the whole charter and by-laws of the Town.
Mr. Hughes pointed out that no where did it state the makeup of the committee. Mr. Foss agreed there was no direction in the by-laws or charter and indicated that he was contemplating 5-7 persons to serve at the pleasure of Town Meeting.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to support Article 34.
HIGH SCHOOL FEASIBILITY STUDY & SCHOOL BUS SUBSIDY
ARTICLES 12, 13
Ms. White noted that the proposal was to appropriate $250,000 for the high school feasibility study by borrowing. She explained that Town Meeting previously approved borrowing $500,000 for a feasibility study of the high school. That amount was borrowed and $250,000 was spent. The balance was not spent so the $250,000 was returned so this article would just be re-appropriating funding that was already appropriated for the high school feasibility study. The study was required by the SBA and absent this step the Town wouldn’t be able to move forward with the SBA program.
Mr. Hughes inquired as to how long it would take to do and was told by Ms. White that it would be perhaps 6 months. She added that it was her understanding that prior to engaging in the feasibility study the SBA required that a project manager be hired. Asked if the $250,000 included the money to hire the project manager, Ms. White responded that it would have to.
Mr. Hughes then asked if the six months included putting out the RFP, but Ms. White was unsure of the timetable. Ms. Van Amsterdam recalled that in a meeting the other evening interim School Superintendent Dr. Keefe said the SBA works with the Town on every step of the way. How long the feasibility study took was how quickly the Town could respond in gathering the necessary information.
In addition to the project manager, Mr. Hughes assumed the feasibility study would pay for some engineering studies – that it wouldn’t be done in-house. Ms. White agreed, but Ms. Gloff advised that certain information would be in-house.
Having served on the high school building committee when the $500,000 was appropriated, Mr. Ciccariello questioned if Ms. White was absolutely sure the $500,000 was borrowed. He knew $250,000 was spent but he wasn’t sure the $500,000 was actually borrowed. Ms. White responded that Finance Director Robert Palmer said the $500,000 was borrowed and $250,000 was returned.
Mr. Ciccariello then noted that the School Committee had to hire a project manager and an architect/engineering firm to conduct a feasibility study. Ms. White didn’t think it necessarily required an architect and referred to Section 8D of the SBA requirements. In looking at the document, to Mr. Ciccariello it said architect/engineer, soils engineer, and other consultant and he would hope they could do it for $250,000. Ms. Gloff pointed out that it also said cost sharing with the State and she had a strong expectation the State would be involved. Ms. White assumed it would be the same ratio as if the project moved forward.
Ms. Van Amsterdam noted that Dr. Keefe spoke about the difference between the now SBA and the old entity and one comment made was that the State would be actively involved in who would be the project manager and who would be the architect.
Mr. Hughes commented that a whole summer was spent looking at renovations (to the high school) and the next summer another feasibility study was done on a new building and it sounds like it was being done all over again. Could those two studies just be updated? The Town already spent $250,000 7-8 years ago and now was doing it again.
Ms. Gloff responded that the State had changed its system and Ms. Van Amsterdam added that she didn’t think any statement had been made that what was done in the past couldn’t be utilized going forward.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes to support the $250,000 for Article 12. Seconded by Mr. Ciccariello and unanimously voted.
Ms. White advised that Article 13 was a standard article and the same amount as requested in FY08.
Mr. Ciccariello understood this to be a subsidy from the general fund beyond what was collected in fees and one of the things under consideration by the School Committee if the override didn’t pass was to increase bus fees. Mr. Hughes noted it would enable the School Committee to mitigate any further cuts in the budget for other services provided.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to support Article 13.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR: ROUTE 135/SPEEN STREET TURNING LANE, AMENDMENT TO ZONING BY-LAWS
Articles 22 and 39
Community Development Director Patrick Reffett advised that Article 22 was a request to use $50,000 in Mall mitigation money that was designated for a feasibility study to look at the design of a turning lane immediately in front of CVS at the corner of Speen Street and Route 135. In a prior ZBA decision CVS was required to provide an easement for a turning lane. There was a design and he was requesting $50,000 be appropriated to allow for full construction documents and allow for construction. The construction funding would likely come from another project.
The Board had received a matrix of Mall mitigation money, but Mr. Hughes didn’t see the turning lane on the matrix. Mr. Reffett advised that it was the 16-04 decision. He noted there had been a lot of different focus on what would take place and the last decision was for a turning lane at that intersection.
Mr. Hughes stated that he would support the article but wanted to make sure the money was still there. Ms. Van Amsterdam pointed out that the matrix listed funds available at zero. Mr. Reffett suggested that he be given a take home.
If money was spent for engineering design, Mr. Ciccariello inquired as to where the money would come from to do the job. Mr. Reffett responded that he had conversations with other proponents for projects that happen to be in permitting before municipal boards. One felt this would be helpful to their project and have made verbal agreement on four different occasions.
Mr. Hughes moved to support $50,000 for Article 22 provided the funds were there from Mall mitigation. Seconded by Mr. Ciccariello and unanimously voted.
Mr. Ciccariello questioned what would happen if Mall mitigation money wasn’t used and Mr. Reffett responded that it would be up to the Town.
Regarding Article 39, Mr. Reffett explained that the Zoning By-Laws did not allow for farmer’s porches to take place within set back dimensions. The ZBA was not of an inclination to provide variances for these types and there has been a request for a farmer’s porch by-law that allowed for these to be constructed in a prescribed manner. In his opinion the farmer’s porch was one of the great things that helped neighborhoods be more like neighborhoods.
Asked if the Planning Board had taken a position, Mr. Reffett advised that the Planning Board was very much in favor of it. Some discussion was needed to do some fine tuning. One discussion was the potential for some site limitations on a corner property that may be inappropriate. There may be a change that would make a special permit take place on a corner property.
Mr. Ciccariello raised the issue of the spacing and size of railings and balusters being dictated by the building code, and Mr. Reffett gave assurance that all codes would be referenced and plans would have to adhere to all codes. Mr. Ciccariello inquired if stairs could go beyond the porch and reiterated that the Planning Board was fine tuning some of those things now.
A motion was made by Mr. Ciccariello to table until the Planning Board had final changes. Seconded by Mr. Hughes and unanimously voted.
Mr. Reffett pointed out this article was a citizen’s petition and when those changes got developed he would bring it forward.
Mr. Ostroff didn’t see how the article could be amended. He thought the article would have been broad and craft a motion. He was surprised it was written as specifically as it was. Mr. Reffett noted that a couple of attorneys had participated in the preparation of the article.
SENIOR CENTER BUILDING MAINTENANCE & IMPROVEMENT REVOLVING FUND
Director of Council on Aging and Human Services Moira Munns was present to speak on Article 28.
Ms. White prefaced the discussion by noting this was a proposal to establish a new revolving fund similar to a different one that exists for the use of space at the library where fees were charged for rental use and those funds remain for equipment purchase or small improvements. She noted that Ms. Munns had provided a lot of information about the kind of use the building (Senior Center) would get and a proposed fee schedule which would be subject to the Board’s approval.
Mr. Hughes inquired if any funds were generated now and was told by Ms. Munns that there were occassional donations. Last year $1,420 was received.
If the proposed fee schedule were adopted, Mr. Hughes inquired as to what kind of revenue would be generated. Ms. Munns did not have an estimate, but it would be more than $1,420. This was similar to the library which was about $12,000 on an annual basis.
Mr. Hughes thought this was a good idea, but was a little concerned with how the money got spent. Who would determine the disputes that would arise? Ms. Munns felt the history of the other departments with similar funds would have to be looked at. She didn’t know of any disputes that had arisen at the library.
Mr. Hughes noted that the library was a little different in that the Trustees were separately elected and had a lot of control over funds that come in outside their budget. He would like some thought to be given to the expenditures of funds collected.
Ms. Munns noted that the Council on Aging was an advisory board so Mr. Hughes thought it would be the Town Administrator (who had the final say over the expenditure of the funds). He pointed out the article authorized Ms. Munns to spend the money under the supervision of the Town Administrator and Council on Aging and he wanted to be sure there was a control.
Mr. Ciccariello pointed out that the Council on Aging was an advisory group and not a decision making board. While the Board of Selectmen didn’t rent the building now, there was some control over who used it. He questioned if the Board of Selectmen made a policy decision to rent the building, could any restrictions be placed on the rental of the facility. It was his
understanding the Board could not. He liked the idea of doing this, but at $15 an hour if the Town was responsible for the maintenance person to open or close the building it would cost the Town money to pay that person. In this case the goal was to cover the cost and create some additional revenue and he had some concerns with the rates.
Ms. White advised that Ms. Munns developed the fee schedule after consulting with building management, the library director, and recreation. Ms. Munns confirmed that to be correct and added that these rates were proposed in light of the difference in amenities of the respective buildings.
Mr. Ciccariello responded that in his opinion the proposed hourly rates would not cover the cost. Somebody rents for two hours, the cost of the staff person would exceed $10 per hour.
Mr. Ostroff noted those costs were for the Town of Natick and if a board needed to use the space, the Town would have to cover it. It was the cost of running government and this was something for Ms. Munns to be figuring out.
Mr. Hughes was of the opinion that this wasn’t the night to be discussing the fees. Tonight was to decide whether to support the article. The fees were something to be set by the Board. He moved to support Article 28 and if it passed Ms. Munns would have to come back to the Board to decide what fees to establish for what groups. Seconded by Mr. Ostroff and unanimously voted.
Ms. White distributed copies of the budget format used by the Finance Committee and informed the Board that both the supplement budget and the Town Administrator’s recommended budget for the Morse Institute Library and Bacon Free Library were approved by the Finance Committee.
When asked if she was looking for the Board to support both numbers in anticipation of whatever happened in the vote for the override, Ms. White advised that for departments with more than one budget the Finance Committee had been voting both scenarios.
Mr. Hughes moved to support both budgets under Article 4 for the Morse Institute Library. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
In discussion of the motion Mr. Ciccariello inquired if the budget represented the most recent cuts presented to the Board or could the supplemental budget cuts change again if the override did not pass. Ms. White advised there were a couple of things in flux, i.e. it snows again.
Mr. Ciccariello stated that he didn’t have a problem doing what was being asked but in moving forward if additional cuts had to be made, how did the Board of Selectmen do that if Town Meeting already approved. Ms. Gloff pointed out that Town Meeting didn’t start until April 8.
For Article 5, Ms. White noted that the Finance Committee voted both budgets for the Bacon Free Library.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes to support both budgets under Article 5 for the Bacon Free Library. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
ARTICLE 6 – ELECTED OFFICIALS SALARY
Ms. White noted that the only elected official was the Town Clerk and the proposal was for her to receive a 3% COLA increase commensurate with the union personnel and non-union personnel. That would fix the Town Clerk’s salary at $64,234.67.
Mr. Hughes moved to support Article 6. Seconded by Mr. Ostroff. The motion passed on a 4-1-0 vote. Ms. Gloff, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Ostroff, Ms. Van Amsterdam voted in favor of the motion. Mr. Ciccariello was opposed.
ARTICLE 29 – ASSESSORS: INCREASE PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS
Director of Assessment Jan Dangelo told the Board that this was her 12th year coming before Town Meeting. If Town Meeting favorably voted the article, it would be a 30% increase in the uniform exemptions. It would be 30% over the State mandated amount. The amount went up each year and if it wasn’t voted, the amount would go back to the mandated amount which would be quite a decrease.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to support Article 29.
Unrelated to Article 29, Mr. Hughes proposed that on Monday the Board discuss whether to call a special within the annual if the bill passed that would give an exemption to qualifying seniors from paying the increase from the override. There would be a vote in the legislature on March 25.
ARTICLE 25 – RE-AUTHORIZATION OF REVOLVING FUNDS
Ms. White reviewed the five revolving funds:
Council on Aging - $15,000 for transportation program
Conservation Commission - $15,000 for hiring consultants
DPW - $25,000 from sale of surplus vehicles for the purchase of vehicles
Library - $85,000 from fines for materials
Library - $15,000 for equipment and maintenance of facilities. In FY08 it
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes to support the reauthorization of the five revolving funds. Seconded by Mr. Ostroff and unanimously voted.
Mr. Ciccariello requested a list of all the equipment and vehicles falling under the DPW revolving fund – what’s been sold and what’s proposed to be auctioned. Ms. White noted that whatever was sold would only be sold after being declared surplus by the Board of Selectmen. Ms. White didn’t know the balance and didn’t know if any money had been from the revolving fund, but didn’t recall anything being surplused.
Mr. Ciccariello made the same request for the library maintenance revolving fund – how much had been brought in rents and how much was spent in maintenance.
ARTICLE 25 – RE-AUTHORIZATION OF REVOLVING FUNDS (contd)
Ms. Van Amsterdam suggested it would be a good thing to have a chart showing the balances of the revolving funds.
ARTICLE 26 – RE-AUTHORIZATION OF REVOLVING FUND: SASSAMON TRACE GOLF CARTS
Ms. White advised that this account was fairly inactive at this time. Last Town Meeting authorized the expenditure of up to $50,000 to be spent on funds to be received from the sale of golf carts. She didn’t believe there was any new income coming into the account but there was a proposal to purchase new batteries for a number of golf carts which she believed would deplete the fund. This fund would be waning out.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to support Article 26.
ARTICLE 27 – RE-AUTHORIZATION OF REVOLVING FUND: NATICK MALL INSPECTIONAL SERVICES
Ms. White told the Board that last year $150,000 was authorized for the Natick Mall inspectional services enterprise fund. This year the request was for $75,000. Over time this would fade out, probably in the next year or at the most one more year. These were permit fees associated with the Mall and the fees were put into this account and expended to supplement building inspection services.
With the money coming from fees collected from the Mall, Mr. Ciccariello asked if $75,000 would be collected in FY09 from the Mall to cover it. Ms. White didn’t think it was an unrealistic expectation. There was still a lot going on. When asked what happened if $75,000 wasn’t collected, Ms. White responded that there wouldn’t be as much money to work with.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to support Article 27.
ARTICLE 30 – ACCEPTANCE OF MGL c59, CLAUSE FIFTH B; PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION FOR VETERANS’ ORGANIZATIONS
ARTICLE 31 – ACCEPTANCE OF MGL c59, CLAUSE FIFTH C: ADDITIONAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION FOR VETERANS’ ORGANIZATIONS
Ms. White advised that Article 30 pertained to exemptions of property owned by veterans organizations. Clause Fifth B was the largest exemption currently allowed under MGL and this article was asking the Town to adopt this exemption.
Article 31 relates to a piece of pending legislation where the exemption would increase to $1.2 million, but it had not as yet been approved. Ms. White explained that the plan was if the legislature approved the pending legislation before Town Meeting no action would be taken on Article 30 and Town Meeting would be asked to accept the larger exemption. If the legislature did not pass the new legislature the best the Town could do was Article 30.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes to support Article 30. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
Speaking to the motion, Mr. Ciccariello inquired as to the impact on the tax base and was told by Ms. White that there was a period of time during which the organizations were not taxed. Once it was brought to the
administration’s attention, she had no choice but to tax them to the full extent of the law. It wouldn’t affect the tax base.
Mr. Hughes moved to support Article 31 if the legislation passed and if the legislation passed, that no action be taken on Article 30. Seconded by Mr. Ostroff and unanimously voted.
ARTICLE 35 – REPORT OF COMMUNITY/SENIOR CENTER STUDY COMMITTEE
Mr. Ciccariello, the Board’s representative to the Community/Senior Center Study Committee, noted that each member of the Board had received a book and the report would be a summary of the book.
Mr. Hughes moved to hear the report under Article 35. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
ARTICLE 36 – COCHITUATE RAIL TRAIL TASK FORCE: REPORT
Mr. Ostroff, the Board’s representative to the Cochituate Rail Trail Task Force, advised that the intent was to provide a progress report. There were plans for a community forum in May for people to ask questions and get some feedback. It was on a slow track and no action was being requested.
A motion was made by Mr. Ciccariello to support Article 36 and hear the report. Seconded by Mr. Hughes and unanimously voted.
ARTICLE 40 – HOME RULE PETITION: INCREASE NUMBER OF AVAILABLE LIQUOR LICENSES
Mr. Ostroff presented the Board with a small revision of the motion pointing out the only change was in Section 1A. He explained that it was never the intent to change in any way the categories of licenses the Town issues. The change simply confirms that the additional licenses were for the sale of alcohol within the categories the Town has authority to grant. He noted the other changes were made at the suggestion of counsel and the Joint Committee on Licensure, i.e. changing Board of Selectmen to local licensing authority.
Mr. Hughes questioned why the Board was being given the discretion to charge the fee instead of just charging the fee. Mr. Ostroff explained that the Board asked for the motion to be drafted in such a way that the Board could do either. It’s up to the Board whether to have the opportunity to have an earmark for Natick Center improvements.
Mr. Hughes pointed out that the Town didn’t have an Economic Development account. There wasn’t a place to put the money. Mr. Ostroff agreed that were this home rule petition to pass and the fee was charged, there would be a need to create such an account but that could be done subsequent to its passing.
Ms. White thought maybe a prerequisite question would be who would determine expenditure from the fund. That would help define better where to put it.
Mr. Ostroff felt the motion was OK for the home rule petition and if there was a need for a motion B to establish an account, if it was within the scope of the article, he would glad to work with Counsel. Mr. Hughes stated that he supported this concept but didn’t know if the fund needed to be
created at the same time or before. He (Mr. Hughes) wanted the Board of Selectmen to expend the money.
Mr. Ostroff advised that the Planning Board had already voted unanimously to support this article.
Noting there were two liquor licenses available of which one could be made available for beer & wine, Ms. Gloff inquired if three facilities outside the area covered by this article wanted to have a liquor license was it possible for a restaurant within the downtown area to give up their license and get one of these eight. Mr. Ostroff responded that he had asked that question and the answer was yes.
Mr. Ciccariello inquired if Town Counsel had seen the verbiage. Mr. Ostroff advised that Town Counsel wrote it.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, and unanimously voted to support Article 40.
Mr. Ostroff offered to follow-up with Town to get answers on creating a fund.
2008 GOALS & OBJECTIVES
Referring to the draft goals & objectives for 2008, Mr. Ciccariello noted that he had asked the Town Administrator if she had looked at these and she didn’t convey any relative problems. The goals were pretty broad and he thought it gave the Town Administrator some leeway to look at various things. In the past the Town Administrator was given some very specific things. If Ms. White didn’t have a problem with these goals & objectives, he didn’t have a problem.
Ms. White told the Board that she reviewed the proposed goals & objectives and acknowledged they were very broad but that may be beneficial. An over specific set of objectives can be very difficult because the ground shifts underneath us pretty frequently. If the list was project based, at the end of the year you ended up explaining why you weren’t able to accomplish those. She felt what was proposed provided a good framework for the Board’s priorities. These were the four areas in which the Board expected responsiveness and there was enough specificity for her to convey to the department heads. One of the challenges will be to remember the examples through which these objectives were attained.
Ms. Van Amsterdam suggested the following changes: under Finance Management, the comment “gives effective assistance to the Financial Planning Committee”, strike ‘Financial Planning Committee’. Under Operations she felt ‘on time for meetings’ was too specific and in item d proposed adding the words ‘as appropriate’ to delegate’s responsibility to department heads and staff.
Mr. Hughes moved to adopt the 2008 goals & objectives as presented with the modifications suggested by Ms. Van Amsterdam. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
The adopted 2008 goals and objectives were as follows:
1. Financial Management
The Town Administrator provides leadership, timely updates and prudent advice on financial matters, gives effective assistance, promotes coordination and cooperation among the town’s financial departments, and develops capital and operating budgets in line with sound municipal practice and the town’s bylaws.
a. Executes a well-organized budget development process
b. Timely updates to operating and capital budget programs
c. Effective coordination among Administration, Comptroller, School Department and state agencies
The Town Administrator maintains and improves communications with the public and among town committees and departments, identifies and pursues opportunities for effective public communication, and is responsive to public and official inquiries.
a. Timely notification of issues that require Board attention or action
b. Town web site is current with a mechanism for updates and feedback
c. TA newsletter is distributed quarterly
d. Town departments are responsive to citizen communication
The Town Administrator identifies opportunities to improve productivity, innovation, staff development and cost efficiencies; promotes a positive work environment, encourages accountability and cooperation within and between departments, and provides status reports while working to further major projects and initiatives.
a. Identifies and proposes specific areas to improve productivity, service and cost-efficiency
b. Proposes staff development, training and accountability initiatives
c. Meets deadlines, provides advance notice of changes and delays
d. Delegates responsibility to department heads and staff as appropriate
e. Coordinates Natick projects with legislative delegation, state and regional agencies, etc.
4. Long Range Planning
The Town Administrator participates in the Strategic Planning Process, and acts in a way to protect the long-term financial, social, economic and environmental interests of the community.
a. Coordinates development efforts to involve appropriate boards, departments and the public
b. Provide a management response to the approved Strategic Plan
c. Executes aspects of the Strategic Plan as directed by the Board
Mr. Hughes thanked Mr. Ostroff for his yeoman’s work and requested the goals to be posted on the web site.
Ms. White inquired if it was the objective to conduct an evaluation at the conclusion of this fiscal year. Mr. Hughes responded that an evaluation would be done in December.
Mr. Ostroff commented that he thought this reflected the high standards the Board had for the Town Administrator.
a. Thank You
Mr. Ostroff thanked the members for accommodating his schedule and meeting on Wednesday.
b. Secretary of Elder Affairs
Mr. Hughes announced that the Secretary of Elder Affairs would be at the Senior Center tomorrow.
c. League of Women Voters Forum
Mr. Ciccariello announced the League of Women Voters candidates’ forum was scheduled for tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m.
Joshua Ostroff, Clerk