New Year, New Special Town Meeting

            “We’re getting off to a bumpy start,” Melody Pacheco, secretary to the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen, commented with a chuckle at the start of the January 2 meeting of the Finance Committee.

            Earlier in the week, leaking pipes in Town Hall caused Town Administrator Michael Gagne to work from home while awaiting completion of remediation efforts in his office. For several members of the Finance Committee, this latest maintenance issue underscored the imminent need to consider the future usefulness of the Town Hall structure.

            That aside, FinCom had convened to discuss and more fully understand the single warrant article of the January 14 Special Town Meeting. Attending remotely, Gagne explained the need to call a Special Town Meeting.

            “In hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have grouped all the projects noted in Article 20 of the last Town Meeting,” Gagne began.

            In the October Special Town Meeting warrant, Article 20 asked voters to approve spending that would be matched by two grants the town had applied for earlier in the year.

            The projects proposed are: $375,000, the town’s share of the replacement cost of the bridge north of The Bogs on Acushnet Road, road and drainage improvements to Industrial Drive including improvement of North Street to create a pedestrian crossing to Industrial Drive, and the construction of a shared-use path from North Street to the Mattapoisett/Marion Town Line, including related engineering and construction costs.

            The town’s share would be $1,665,000, but Article 20 included the caveat that the work shall only proceed if the Town is in receipt of a Mass Works Grant and a US Economic Development Grant, both totaling $1,470,000.

            Although the town did receive the US Economic Development Grant in the amount of $750,000, the town did not receive the Mass Works Grant, making the article invalid.

            The January Special Town Meeting article asks voters to approve new, more generic language that would allow the projects to advance in spite of the loss of the Mass Works Grant by amending the article to specify: “The Town’s share of the project cost $1,665,000 must be matched dollar for dollar from Federal and State Grant Funding sources to be used toward the project.”

            Gagne assured the Finance Committee that the language change would not impact the amount of money the town would be spending; those sums would remain the same.

            “Those projects should not have been bundled together,” said Gagne.

            Finance Committee Chairman Pat Donoghue inquired, “This is going to represent a revenue enhancement for the town, right?”

            “Yes,” replied Gagne. He said that several businesses in the Industrial Drive area are considering expansion of their footprints when municipal sewer becomes available.

            In other matters, Gagne reported that he had spoken recently to outgoing Superintendent of Schools Doug White about including capital needs and other expenses in the Old Rochester Regional School District budget, and that a meeting should be arranged for further discussion of this issue. The committee concurred that such a meeting was critical for the towns and the school.

            The Mattapoisett Special Town Meeting is scheduled for January 14 at 6:30 pm at Old Hammondtown Elementary School, with a regular meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen to follow.

            Visit to view the January 14 Special Town Meeting warrant.

Mattapoisett Finance Committee

By Marilou Newell

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