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Mattapoisett Election and Meeting Results

For a complete text of the Annual Town Meeting Articles click here for the PDF of the Meetng Warrant

New Committee in Select Board's Hands
Mattapoisett Annual Town Meeting
By Marilou Newell
The May 13 Mattapoisett Annual Town Meeting included moments of verbalized personal attacks and frustration during an hour-long debate on the pros and cons of the establishment of a new committee to help oversee the village road reconstruction project.
Voters supported the creation of the committee, technically authorizing Select Board to act on the matter, which is now anticipated by Town Administrator Mike Lorenco in one of the board's future public meetings.
Spearheading the effort to gain a seat at the decision-making table regarding all matters related to the proposed reconstruction of the village roads (Main, Water and Beacon streets and Old Marion Road) was Tree Committee Chairman Sandra Hering along with Bonne DeSousa, well known for her work on bike-path advocacy.
The duo, along with four others, was able to get a citizen's petition on the warrant asking the Select Board to establish a new committee that would provide outreach and information to the town's residents on the design options that might lead to a plan that would spare trees currently targeted for removal.
Using the Tree Committee platform to engage in public dialog over concerns that too many mature trees especially along the waterfront (20-plus at last count) would be felled to make way for new sidewalks and overhead utilities, meetings were held and Tree Committee members ramped up public interest for protecting the trees in question. But the Tree Committee believed more could be done to protect trees and, as inclusion requests increased, several members moved to try and establish a new committee whose stated purpose among other things would be public engagement and inclusion.
Hering said that the new committee is not meant to be a subcommittee of the Tree Committee.
At times, the debate over Article 23, which was advanced on Town Meeting floor and inserted in the 14th position on the 23-article warrant, became confrontational with some Town Meeting members insinuating that the Select Board withheld information, has not been transparent and has not held sufficient public meetings to vet the suggested construction preliminary design.
Select Board members Jordan Collyer and Tyler Macallister both attempted to make points that the project has been under a nearly 10-year review in which public meetings have been held, that trees requiring removal have been discussed at length, that the board has done its homework reviewing whether utilities can be placed underground and regarding the potential replanting of trees to provide a future shade canopy.
The two Select Board members also discussed the funding aspects of the reconstruction work and the need to advance the project to 25% design status in order to maintain the town's status on a TIP grant that would cover a vast majority of costs now estimated at $16,000,000.
Proponents for a new committee to push details into the public domain and consider design options and other aspects of a road-reconstruction project countered that not enough has been done from a public perspective and that by having a seat at the design table, such a committee would assist in gaining a finished product that all would like.
Hering acknowledged that proponents of a new committee had only recently learned that such a committee would be working in an advisory capacity only, but she still believes a committee is necessary.
At various times throughout the debate, Town Moderator Jack Eklund had to remind a speaker to keep comments civil and on the subject absent personal attacks, at one point causing police security personnel on site to take on a ready stance should escalation require intervention. Decorum was, however, maintained. "Article 23" was moved by Town Meeting, authorizing the Select Board to move forward at a future Select Board meeting.
The balance of the meeting delt primarily with financial matters. Article 1 Officers Compensation was moved. Article 2 General Operating Budget was for a FY25 operating budget of $33,298,565 was also moved.
Article 3 Appropriation for OPEB Liabilities for a sum of $229,100 was moved. Articles 4 and 5, Departmental Revolving Fund Authorization, and Establishment of a Roadway Design and Construction Revolving Fund were both moved.
Article 6 Establish a Conservation Commission Revolving Fund $30,000 was moved, as was Article 7 Cyclical Annual Property Revaluation and Town Mappings $50,000.
Also moved were Articles 8 and 9, Cyclical Annual OPEB Actuarial Report, and Personnel Schedules.
Articles 10 and 11 both dealt with Capital Expenses Article 10 for accepting the committee report and Article 11 for funding of capital requests. The funding of such items as fire helmets, trucks, an ambulance and local schools' infrastructural needs amounted to $1,154,800 from the general fund.
Article 12 Old Rochester Regional Debt Authorization for $12,000,000 in capital improvements to the senior and junior high school buildings and campus was postponed indefinitely at the ORR District's request.
Article 13 Water/Sewer Building $4,700,000 was moved with sources earmarked from property sales and ARPA funding.
Articles 14 and 15 for the allocation of revenues Community Preservation Act and the funding of one grant as requested by the Historical Commission for the continuation of townwide inventory of historic assets and buildings were both moved.
Articles 16, 17 and 18 dealt with Water and/or Sewer financial matters, including the funding of a major sewer main on Oakland that services a large swath of the community, supplemental request of $120,000.
Article 19 Amendment to By-law for Highway title was postponed indefinitely; it would have allowed for a title change from Highway Surveyor to Highway Superintendent. Article 20 Amendment to By-laws for Finance Committee garnered some discussion on the language of the motion but was ultimately moved to allow the Select Board to accept applications for open seats regardless of residential location within the community. Heretofore, board members were not only selected for financial backgrounds but also to represent various established neighborhoods.
Article 21 Amendment to By-laws for House Numbering was moved and now makes it clear that such numbering is established by the Assessor's office. Article 22 Public Works Improvement article was also moved.
At the highpoint in the meeting, 160 registered voters participated in one of the oldest forms of a democratic society - Town Meeting. By the time the meeting was adjourned, that figured had dropped to 120.