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Mattapoisett Annual Town Meeting

Mattapoisett Approves $6.8M Neck Sewer Project

Mattapoisett Town Meeting

By Anne O'Brien-Kakley

Mattapoisett voters gathered on May 10 and 11 to tackle 43 articles on the annual town meeting warrant. After reciting the pledge of allegiance, Town Moderator Jack Eklund called the town meeting to order at 7:00 pm on May 10 in the Old Rochester Regional auditorium. Seated on stage to answer questions were town officials, including the Board of Selectmen and the Financial Committee.

The town meeting began with the most anticipated article, relating to the Mattapoisett Neck Sewer project. Article 1 sought to amend a town general by-law adoption to give future sewer connection rights to residents on Mattapoisett Neck Road. The questions and answer session from town residents involved assessment values and logistical issues. Mr. Eklund received word that some of the "overflow" voters in the gymnasium did not receive a printed town warrant; therefore, both the first and second articles were read in their entirety.

Considering the turn-out, the questioning session was relatively brief before one resident made a motion to make a vote via paper ballot. The secret ballot motion received the necessary 25 votes, but upon further clarification, the resident who called for the ballot, Bill Marinoni, said that he intended on his motion for a secret ballot to apply to Article 2 instead of Article 1. There being only one objection to this change, Article 1 went to vote.

Article 1, which sought a general by-law adoption to give future sewer connection rights to residents on Mattapoisett Neck Road, and required a majority vote, passed 417-110.

Article 2, which continued the topic of sewer on Mattapoisett Neck Road, asked for the Town to raise and appropriate $6.8 million, through borrowing, for the purpose of designing and constructing a sewer extension project to service the Mattapoisett Neck Road area; specifically, this article sought to provide a sewer extension to the Antassawamock area, the Mid-neck area and Mattapoisett Shores. Again, a motion was made and passed to vote on Article 2 via secret ballot.

Kathleen Reed of Antassawamock Road said that she currently has a working septic system, but that "my system is not going to work forever... more importantly, I want to be guaranteed that after a rain, the waters of Mattapoisett will still be safe to swim in." Ms. Reed summed up the feelings of those in favor of the project, saying that it was a matter of environment and convenience from which the rest of the town benefitted.

Rick Mitchell, also of Antassawamock Road, questioned the criteria for a property's need for sewer tie-in. Mr. Mitchell's property would be included in the sewer tie-in map, and Mr. Mitchell would have no choice but to tie in if the article passed. "I believe I can effectively deal with waste water," Mr. Mitchell said. He objected to having to pay a "dubious betterment" on "an arbitrary basis" and suggested that this could be grounds for legal action if he had to tie in.

"It's hard to lay out a plan where everyone is going to be happy," said resident James Dildine, who does not live in the Mattapoisett Neck region. However, Mr. Dildine supported the article for the greater good of the town, saying that there would be an environmental benefit to the project.

The town reconvened to tackle Articles 3 and 4 while the ballots were counted. Article 3 asked the Town to vote to accept a deferral of betterment assessment payments for qualifying elderly residents. Article 3, which required no funding and needed a majority vote, passed 175-0.

Article 4 asked the Town to appropriate $100,000 from the Sewer Enterprise Retained Earnings to engineer and design a public sewer extension from North Street down the length of Industrial Drive, Edgewood Lane, and down a portion of Tower Road. Article 4, which required a majority vote, passed 173-2.

At this point in the meeting, Mr. Eklund received the results of the ballot from Article 2. Article 2, which required a two-thirds vote, passed by four votes: 374-181.

Article 5 asked town meeting members to approve the following FY11 salaries: Moderator ($200), Board of Selectmen Chairman ($3,700), Board of Selectmen each ($3,300), Assessor each ($3,300), Town Clerk ($48,110), Board of Health each ($400), Highway Surveyor ($64,380), Mattapoisett School Committee members each ($400), Water/Sewer Commissioners each ($400), Tree Warden ($7,004) and Herring Inspector ($730). Article 5, which required a majority vote, passed 70-0.

Article 6 detailed Mattapoisett's proposed FY11 operating budget. The article asked town meeting members to vote to "defray general operating expenses", with the money being raised by taxation, borrowing or transferring from available funds. The $20,772,928 budget represented a 1.94 percent increase from FY10's budget. Article 6, which required a majority vote, passed with two amendments (transferring $55,852 from Board of Health and Police budgets to reserve fund) 105-0.

Article 7 asked the Town to approve the Five-Year Captial Improvement Plan, which detailed capital needs requests from all town department-heads for 2011. Article 7, which required a majority vote, passed 186-0.

Article 8 asked town meeting members to appropriate $101,500 from the Capital Improvement Stabilization Fund and $31,000 from the Water Department Retained Earnings to purchase: a fire alarm receiver for the fire department ($25,000); town hall smoke detection equipment and installation ($12,000); a police cruiser ($28,500); a town hall telephone system ($16,000); a pick-up truck for the Board of Health ($20,000); and a service truck for the water department ($31,000). Article 8, which required a two-thirds vote passed 186-0.

Article 9 asked town meeting members to appropriate $18,200 from free cash to perform needed repairs to various fire apparatus and to purchase fire radios. Article 9, which required a majority vote, passed 186-0.

Articles 10 asked town meeting members to appropriate $35,000 from free cash to fund a cyclical annual evaluation of Mattapoisett property. Article 10, which required a majority vote, passed 186-0.

Article 11 asked town meeting members to appropriate $700 from free cash to pay for a Buzzard's Bay Action Committee assessment for FY11. Article 11, which required a majority vote, passed 186-0.

Article 12 asked town meeting members to appropriate $2,000 from free cash to fund domestic violence and sexual assault programs for a grant agreement between Mattapoisett and the New Bedford Women's Center for FY11. Article 12, which required a majority vote, passed 186-0.

Article 13 asked the Town to appropriate $14,000 from free cash to conduct a site analysis to address subsurface contamination associated with a Town-owned underground storage tank at the Mattapoisett police station. Article 13, which required a majority vote, passed 185-1.

Article 14 asked the Town to appropriate $2,000 from free cash to provide training and licensing for operating equipment involving hoisting and lifting. Article 14, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 15 asked town meeting members to appropriate $15,000 from free cash to perform a full cost-analysis to fix public building problems as identified in the Mattapoisett Capital Planning Committee Facilities Study, dated January 14, 2010. Article 15, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 16 asked town meeting members to appropriate $3,300 from free cash to provide the Town's match into the Buzzard's Bay National Estuary Project Grant for environmental improvements to Pico Beach. Article 16, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 17 asked town meeting members to appropriate $3,000 from free cash to jointly apply for a Community Development Block Grant with Marion and Rochester, for senior citizen home improvements and handicap accessibility improvements in each town. Article 17, which required a majority vote, passed 189-1.

Article 18 asked town meeting members to appropriate $7,500 from free cash for periodic repairs to public buildings during FY11. These funds would be subject to votes of approval by the Board of Selectmen. Article 18, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 19 asked town meeting members to revise a vote previously taken under Article 12 of the October 2007 Town Meeting, to include authorization for the maintenance and repair for "town piers, floats, supporting buildings and parking areas at Shipyard Park". Article 19, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 20 asked the Town to consider the formation of an agricultural commission in Mattapoisett. The commission would consist of seven members who would be appointed by the Board of Selectmen and would serve three-year terms. Article 20, which required a majority vote, passed 189-1.

Article 21 asked the town to authorize a Farmer's Market Revolving Fund for the purpose of establishing a Tri-Town Farmers' Market with a FY11 limit of $2,000. Article 21, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 22 asked the town meeting members to establish a revolving fund to accept revenues for the purpose of operating Historical Commission programs with an expenditure limit of $10,000 for FY11. Article 22, which required a majority vote passed 190-0.

Article 23 asked the town meeting members to authorize revolving funds for certain departments and also asked to reauthorize existing Town revolving funds: Flu Clinic ($5,000); Heritage Days ($10,000); Local Cultural Council ($5,000); and Wood Waste ($5,000). Article 23, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 24 asked town meeting members to authorize the formation of a facility management committee. This seven-member committee would be made up of skilled professionals to make recommendations on proper repair and upkeep of public buildings. Article 24, which required a majority vote passed 189-1.

Article 25 asked town meeting members to allocate annual revenues from the Community Preservation Act (CPA) for projects and expenses in FY11 in the following distribution: Administrative services ($5,000); Housing ($17,095.50); Historical Preservation ($17,095.50); Open Space ($17,095.50); and a budgeted reserve of $114,668.50. Article 25, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 26 asked the town meeting members to appropriate $25,000 from the Community Preservation funds budgeted reserve account for designing and engineering services associated with Phases 2A and 2B of the Mattapoisett Bike Path project. Article 26, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 27 asked town meeting members to appropriate $35,000 from the Community Preservation funds budgeted reserve account to improve the Railroad Bridge Crossing on the Bike Path between Mattapoisett Neck Road and Depot Street. Article 27, which required a majority vote, passed 190-0.

Article 28 asked town meeting members to use $65,000 from the Community Preservation fund balance for land acquisition. Also, the article authorized the town treasurer, with approval from the Board of Selectmen, to be allowed to borrow $260,000 against the Community Preservation fund. Article 28, which required majority vote, passed 149-1.

With 15 articles still on the agenda, the town meeting members voted to adjourn at 9:58 pm to reconvene on May 12 at 6:30 pm.

Highway Surveyor Position Remains Elected

Mattapoisett Town Meeting

By Anne O'Brien-Kakley

A third evening of the Mattapoisett annual town meeting was called to order by Town Moderator Jack Eklund on May 12, 2010 at 6:45 pm in the Old Rochester Regional auditorium. Town meeting members reconvened to tackle the last 15 articles on the warrant.

Article 29 asked town meeting members to revise a May 2008 town meeting vote called "Capital Plan for Purchase of Land " to include the cost of protecting "town drinking water aquifers and well fields". Article 29, which required a majority vote, passed 95-0.

Article 30 asked town meeting members to appropriate $10,000 from the sewer department enterprise funds retained earnings to the FY11 sewer department annual budget for the purpose of offsetting unforeseeable expenses. Article 30, which required a majority vote, passed 98-0.

Article 31 asked the town to appropriate $10,000 from the water department enterprise funds retained earnings to the FY11 water department annual budget to establish a departmental reserve for water expenses. Article 31, which required a majority vote, passed 100-0.

Article 32 asked the town to appropriate $200,000 from water department retained earnings to purchase water meter reading and transmitting equipment. According to water department superintendent William Nicholson, these replacement meters would give quicker, more accurate readings, making it possible to move to quarterly billing, which would ease the financial burden for those paying for public water. The Finance Committee did not back the article since they did not feel that they had enough information on it, but Mr. Nicholson recommended passage for the sake of accuracy and water conservation, since the new meters would make leaks evident sooner. Article 32, which required a majority vote, passed 133-14.

Article 33 asked town meeting members to transfer $42,380.88 from water retained earnings, and $27,619.12 from previous town meeting articles to offset the cost of demolishing the North Street water tower, which is about 98 years old. Article 33, which required a majority vote, passed 150-0.

Article 34 asked town meeting members to appropriate $600,000 to design, engineer, permit and construct sewer on Cove Street, which would serve 28 homes in a sandy area of Cove Street, to prevent leeching into Buzzard's Bay from septic tanks. The borrowed project money would be repaid by "property owners benefitting from this project". Article 34, which required a two-thirds vote, passed 155-0.

Article 35 asked town meeting members to appropriate $610,000 to finance the construction of a North Street sewer replacement construction project. The North Street sewer was constructed around the turn of the 20th century, and is in need of replacement for logistic and environmental reasons.

Mr. Nicholson said that, in return for sewer tie-in that the Bay Club LLC received from town, a committee from the gated community agreed that the Bay Club would offset the installation of this North Street project. Mr. Nicholson was clear that they would not go to bid without a written and recorded agreement with the Bay Club LLC. An amendment was approved by town meeting members to make the Bay Club LLC responsible for betterment of the North Street sewer replacement project. Article 35, which required a two-thirds vote, passed 155-0.

Article 36 asked town meeting members to accept a provision in Massachusetts General Law to establish a trust fund for long-term liability of retiree health insurance costs. Also, the article asked to raise and appropriate $25,000 for this liability trust fund. Article 36, which required a majority vote, passed 150-0.

Article 37 asked town meeting members to appropriate money from available revenue for the town's stabilization fund. Upon recommendation of the Finance Committee, the article was withdrawn - $13,744 remains in free cash.

Article 38 asked town meeting members to amend Article 4 in the May 2009 Town Meeting to include DPW highway barn generator work. Article 38, which required a majority vote, passed 150-0.

Article 39 asked town meeting members to amend a November 2009 special Town Meeting vote to include fixing water leakage issues in the Center School. Article 38, which required a majority vote, passed 150-0.

Article 40, an article filed by petitioner Kimberly Ward of Meadowbrook Lane, asked town meeting members to change the Mattapoisett Highway Surveyor position from elected to an appointed position. Ms. Ward expressed displeasure in the way that the private roads issue was resolved with current Highway Surveyor Barry Denham in the fall of 2009, and thought that the position shouldn't give too much power to one person.

In an overwhelming response in defense of Mr. Denham, town meeting members supported status quo, arguing that the position is best kept as an elected position.

One resident argued that keeping it elected was the best way to keep up quality work. "If you don't like someone, vote someone else in," said Mr. Terrio.

"[Voters] have direct input," said Wayne Walega of 24 North Street, in regards to the highway surveyor position. "If what you propose goes through, you are completely at the whim of an appointed person." Mr. Walega said that keeping the position elected assures that the surveyor is always held accountable.

Selectman Randall recused himself for a moment to represent himself as a taxpayer. "If you pass this article tonight, you will lose an elected official and that is defeating the democratic process in Mattapoisett," said Mr. Randall.

Other residents spoke to Mr. Denham's diligence and their satisfaction with his work over the years. Bill Dumas said that he "sleep[s] rather well" knowing that Mr. Denham and his crew were on the road in a snowstorm; likewise, Mattapoisett Congregational Church secretary Liz Field noted that Mr. Denham was always diligent about sanding the parking area of Barstow Street for the Council of Aging. Aside from personal satisfaction with the currently elected highway surveyor, most town member members did not think that making the position appointed would benefit the town in the long run.

Resident and former selectman Ray Andrews said that the salary of a professional engineer, as would be appointed under the proposed article, would be cost prohibitive, being nearly twice the salary that Mr. Denham currently receives. "To replace him would be very expensive," said Mr. Andrews.

Robert Price of Long Plain Road understood the petitioner's frustration, but said that the article "seems like a retaliation" and encouraged town meeting members to defeat the article.

The petitioner, Ms. Ward, moved to have the vote taken via secret ballot, but did not receive the 25 votes needed to proceed with the ballot.

Article 40, which required a majority vote, was defeated, 147-3.

Article 41, an article filed by petitioners, asked town meeting members to accept Park Place as a town road. Article 41, which required a two-thirds vote, passed 140-0. Article 42, an article filed by petitioners, asked town meeting members to accept Park Lane as a town road. Article 42, which required a two-thirds vote, passed 140-0.

Article 43, an article filed by petitioners, asked town meeting members to appropriate $100,000 from available revenue to reconstruct three tennis courts on Hammond Street at the Center School. The article was filed by petitioners who were concerned with the failing condition of the courts, but the article was not recommended for approval by the Finance Committee.

Mr. Eklund noted an issue with the legal phrasing of the article, which was not specific enough with where the money would come from. The money couldn't come from the stabilization fund, since the article had been posted as a majority vote item, and money from the stabilization required a two-thirds vote.

An amendment was passed to have the article state that the town would appropriate $13,044 from free cash to reconstruct three courts near the Center School, and Town Administrator Michael Gagne told the petitioners that they might, in the future, be able to pursue further funding from potential Community Preservation Act funds. The amended Article 43, which required a majority vote, was defeated.

The town meeting voted to adjourn on May 12 at 9:52 pm.