The Marion Board of Selectmen has joined in with neighboring towns Rochester and Wareham in extending the property tax deadline from May 1 to June 1. Those who can pay their taxes in keeping with the May 1 deadline are asked to do so in order to spare the town any unnecessary financial strain.
“Unfortunately, on this tax bill, we have the (sewer) betterment fees,” said Marion Board of Selectman Chairperson Randy Parker.
Assistant Town Administrator Judy Mooney instructed the board that the waiving of interest is not a Board of Selectmen authority but falls under the treasurer/collector. Nonetheless, it will happen. “You’re extending the due date so she will automatically waive that interest,” said Mooney.
Department of Public Works Director David Willett researched approximately 50 municipalities and presented a revised street-opening permit for the board’s approval.
The purpose is to make contractors more accountable to the town. It has a bonding requirement, and documents and amounts have been discussed with insurance agents. At present, Marion has neither a bond requirement nor an insurance requirement.
Board of Selectmen member John Waterman said that, while the new permit proposal includes bonding, some of the procedures outlined are difficult to understand or buried deep in the document.
Parker was happy to see flowable fill addressed but was unable to find compaction rates. His main concern was for someone filling a sewer box. “This is great coverage if you’re doing a $100,000 job, but if you’re doing a $5,000 job, it’s a little burdensome,” he said.
“It’s really the little contractor that I’m trying to get to here,” said Willett, alluding to the many small projects and the town’s policy to inspect them. “There’s not enough time of the day to go out and inspect all those things.”
It is hoped that more stringent accountability to meet requirements will lessen the load on the town. Willett said he is “more concerned with their personnel falling into a trench or getting hit by a car.”
“This is what we’re asking them to do – spend a little more time. You drive down the street and there’s a thousand little dig-ups, and most of them are Eversource,” said Willett, who established a blanket bond with the utility company. “Normally I don’t like blanket bonds; I said $50,000 and they didn’t blink an eyelash.”
Willett compared Marion’s revised permit as being similar to North Reading’s “street-opening permit.” The bond, he said, is typically two percent of the cost of the work. Marion issues approximately three dozen permits a year. Willett is asking all of the town’s designers to put two-year warranties on all of their projects instead of the (customary) one year.
“This isn’t a big revenue-catching thing,” said Willett, who considers the measure a “first step” in the pavement-management program.
The concerns of the Board of Selectmen varied.
“I’m a firm believer in inspecting work,” said Clerk Norm Hills. “If there’s something that works, let’s just tell them to use it.”
“We need to understand this process and minimize it for our smaller contractors,” said Waterman.
“I’m trying not to create a place in Marion where we have one or two contractors,” said Parker, citing the importance of simple regulations, an authentic bidding process and the avoidance of a monopoly.
McGrail said that, since the board is voting on April 21, he will obtain the relevant information regarding bond procedures. McGrail also said putting off a vote for two weeks will allow the town to get public comments on the matter. Residents can email McGrail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Ed Hoffer, the vice chairperson of Marion’s Board of Health and a practicing physician, attended the meeting to explain the closure of beach parking lots in Marion.
“You read the (Boston) Globe or The New York Times or whatever newspaper and you know we’re heading into… the worst days coming,” he told the meeting. “There are still no vaccinations, no proven treatments. We’re trying very hard to limit the disease, and all we’ve got is masks, handwashing, and social distancing.”
Hoffer found that people at the beach were not maintaining social distance. “You could set up 20 at a time for Silvershell (Beach), but we wanted to keep it down to people within walking distance.”
Having seen a half dozen people walking at the beach since the closure of the parking lots, Hoffer was pleased. “We don’t want to keep people away from Silvershell; we just don’t want them packed so tightly,” he said.
Hoffer and McGrail contributed to a public service announcement for the town.
Citing the guidance from the governor and the May 4 target date to reopen public facilities, McGrail said he would be working with Hoffer within a few weeks on how to get the beach back open under some hours or schedule.
Marion secured a $5.765 million bond for lagoon work, wastewater treatment plant and other projects including the Mill Street water main.
“We did good on this one,” said Mooney, reporting a 1.4 percent long-term loan.
In other business, the Board of Selectmen voted to continue Fieldstone Market’s application for a license for the retail sale of win and malt beverages for 60 days per town counsel’s recommendation to June 9 at 7:15 pm.
The board denied the request for an abatement of $200 for a residence owner on Pine Hill Lane, whose water-meter reading was in failure since February 2018. The entire water bill is approximately $1,221.
McGrail will be the primary representative and Parker secondary in Marion’s actions that allow residents the option of choosing their own electricity carrier.
The contracts of inspectors of animals Sue Connor and Adam Murphy were renewed, effective for the next physical year.
The Marion Board of Selectmen will meet at 3:00 pm on Thursday, April 9, and vote on a proposal to postpone town meeting to a date no later than June 30 and with at least 20 days’ notice.
Marion Board of Selectmen
By Mick Colageo