The Wanderer - Mobile Edition
ROCHESTER ANNUAL TOWN MEETING
Voters Rein in Selectmen
Rochester Annual Town Meeting
By Shawn Badgley
Rochester residents voted during Monday night's quick Town Meeting to retain their current tax billing system and to remain a part of the Marion Rochester Regional Health District, ending months of infighting on both issues.
Article 9 would have switched Rochester from its current annual tax billing system to a "Semi-Annual Preliminary Tax Payment System," as proposed by the Board of Selectmen.
But members of the Board of Assessors, who came out against the initiative earlier this year, wasted no time making their feelings known on Monday night: Chairman John Mello told voters that the Board prefers a quarterly system and would prepare a proposal in time for the next Town Meeting. The Article had met with little debate before resident Kirby Gilmore moved to table it. The motion passed overwhelmingly.
If voters dealt the Selectmen a glancing blow by tabling Article 9, they connected squarely soon after by resoundingly defeating Article 10. It proposed withdrawal of Rochester from the joint Marion Rochester Regional Health District.
"We have concerns about some of the costs," Naida Parker said, going on to explain potential liability issues that the Selectmen and Town Counsel see as risky, at best.
But Rochester Board of Health Chair Dale Barrows blasted this line of reasoning, while other members and residents expressed how well the District has functioned under the direction of Karen Walega, whose services the town could have lost if Article 10 passed.
"It's difficult to find someone of her caliber," Board of Health member Sandra Keese said. "This is a silly idea."
Rochester voters agreed to the tune of 125-2.
One major health-related change that Rochester did approve was the upgrade of EMT services from Basic Life Support to Advanced Life Support. Though it boosted the EMT budget from $191,878 to $321,675, officials argued successfully that the enhanced capabilities would save lives as well as recoup costs with increased call volume and billing reimbursements.
The EMT item was part of the Fiscal Year 2014 Operating Budget of $18,413,066 - aka Article 5, which passed, as did all other articles elsewhere on the Warrant (and Special Warrant). They included:
Article 2, Elected Officials Salaries: To see if the Town will vote to fix the salaries of the elected officials of the Town for the Fiscal Year 2014 as follows or take any other action thereon.
Article 3, Personnel By-Law Amendment - Classification And Compensation Plan
Article 4, Longevity Pay: To see if the Town will vote to amend PART Vi-Rate increases of the town personnel bylaws by adding the following as the second paragraph: "Regular, non-union, employees are entitled to receive longevity incentive pay at the completion of 10, 20 and 25 years of service as a benefitted employee. Longevity incentive pay shall be paid out at the following rate increase schedule. The percentage increase reflects a percentage of the employee's base pay for each longevity step increase. 10 years (2 percent) 20 years (1 percent) 25 years (1 percent). Employees shall receive the pay increases reflected above beginning the next fiscal year after they reach the required length of service."
Article 6, Departmental Revolving Funds Authorization: To see if the Town will vote to authorize revolving funds for certain Town departments under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 44 Section 53E 1/2 for the Fiscal Year 2014 or take any other action thereon.
Article 7, Natural Resource Expenses: To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate and/or transfer from available funds a sufficient sum of money to fund the following recurring Environmental and Natural Resources Expenses or take any other action thereon. Fund 2014 Natural Resource Expenses Department Item/Project: Selectmen Planting of Shellfish (Marion) $300; Total Assessment $300.
Article 8, Chapter 90 Funds Appropriation: To see if the Town will vote to appropriate the sum a of money from the proceeds due to the Town under the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90; for the purposes of repair, construction, maintenance and preservation of the Town roads and bridges and other related costs which qualify under the State Aid Highway Guidelines adopted by the Massachusetts Highway Authority.
Article 11, Fingerprinting Bylaw: To see if the Town will vote, as authorized by Chapter 256 of the Acts of 2010, and incorporated into the Massachusetts General Laws as Chapter 6, Section 172 B 1/2, to create a bylaw enabling the Police Department to conduct State and Federal Fingerprint Based Criminal History checks for individuals applying for the following licenses:
Hawking and Peddling or other Door-to-Door Salespeople, Owner or Operator of Public Conveyance, Dealer of Second-hand Articles, Pawn Dealers, Hackney Drivers, and Ice Cream Truck Vendors and to adopt appropriate policies and procedures to effectuate the purposes of this bylaw, or take any other action relative thereto.
Article 12, Rescinding of Previous Borrowing Authorizations: To see if the Town will vote to rescind the following previously approved borrowing authorizations as approved by previous Town Meeting or take any other action thereto. Rochester Memorial School Renovation/Addition Article 1 - STM - 10/26/09 - Unissued Amount - $14,812,000 RMS Feasibility And Schematic Design Phase Article 6 - STM - 10/20/08 - Unissued Amount - $211,481 Carr Family Bogs Land Preservation Project Article 13 - ATM - 05/17/10 - Unissued Amount - $300,000.
Article 13, Establishment Of Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School District "Stabilization Fund"
Article 14, Appropriate For OPEB Liabilities: To see if the Town will vote to appropriate the total sum of $5,000 to meet the Town's obligations under the Government Accounting Standards Boards Statement 45 to fund the Town's future obligations for the cost of other post employment benefits identified by GASB 45 Report; and as funding therefore, to raise $5,000 from the Tax Levy, or take any action relative thereto.
Article 15, Stabilization Fund: To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate and/or transfer from available funds a sum of money to be added to the Stabilization Fund, or take any other action thereon.
Special Article 1: FY 13 Unanticipated Costs
Special Article 2: Establishment of a Special Education Costs Stabilization Fund
Special Article 3: Transfer to Special Education Stabilization Fund
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