Select Board Receives COVID-19 Update and Conducts Other Town Business

Select Board Chair Mark Ahronian called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. You might notice a telephone on the conference table. Arrangements were made for the public to dial in to listen to the meeting if they were not able to view it on HCAT.

The Select Board practices social distancing during Monday’s meeting.

The first agenda item was to receive an update on COVID-19 from the Town’s Emergency Management Director, Chief Michael Cassidy and Health Director, Scott Moles.

Emergency Management Director Michael Cassidy updated the Board on behalf of himself and Health Director Scott Moles (who is off-camera)

Chief Cassidy began by thanking the Board, all Town department heads, and technology director, Chris Meo (who has worked to make sure employees can work remotely) for the support and cooperation he has received in the past week. The Chief continues to feel confident that all necessary precautions and resources are in place to deal with the situation.

Chief Cassidy announced that one confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported in Holliston and that individual has been quarantined for more than a week with no visible symptoms. SEE THE PRESS RELEASE from Chief Cassidy for additional details.

Cassidy also responded to some of the questions regarding what Town facilities are open and closed. Playing fields and parks remain closed to deter close contact. The golf course is open because the nature of golf has built in social distancing and the course management has removed the rakes and flags to reduce possible touch transfer. The recycling center is closed to prevent the one Town employee from coming into close contact with many citizens. He commended Anthony’s on the Green, the Holliston Public Schools and Holiday Dreams for coming together last week to provide Grab-n-go meals for any family who stops by the Miller School parking lot between 11:30 and 12:30 each weekday.

Technology is in place that, using data from the State health officials, when Holliston first responders are called to a place where a known COVID-19 victim resides, that information will be displayed on their computer prior to arrival on scene.

All the members of the Board commended Chief Cassidy for his efforts to date – including commanding the 3-alarm response to the ‘biggest fire in Holliston since August 8, 1984.’

The weekly warrants totaling $1,806,489.35 were approved as read by Board Clerk, Tina Hein.

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein complimented the Holliston Board of Health on its keep the health of all Hollistonians a top priority.
  • She also promoted the good work being done through the Holliston Community Action Fund. Grant applications and donations can be made at https://hollistoncommunityaction.org/
  • Board Vice-chair John Cronin shared that the language for four DPW related Town Meeting articles is being revised and will be presented to the Board soon.
  • Cronin will be virtually attending tonight’s FinCom meeting as DPW Director Sean Reese presents his proposed FY 21 budget
  • He also requested that the Finance Committee provide the Select Board with a ‘better understanding’ of why the School Committee’s proposed FY 21 is well above the 1% guidelines followed by other Town departments.
  • Mr. Ahronian thanked the Town Hall staff for their efforts to maintain services to the citizens.

Town Administrator, Jeff Ritter had the following updates:

  • The Town Hall staff have developed an effective response to the COVID-19 restrictions
  • He plans to meet with the Town Counsel, Town Clerk, and Town Moderator to discuss the timing of the Annual Town Meeting
  • He is ‘dissecting’ the Town Meeting warrant and will be talking with article owners soon
  • The police contract negotiators have suggested postponing this Wednesday’s discussion – Jeff agrees it should be delayed

Chair Ahronian asked the Town Administrator to make sure the Town Hall proposed FY 21 budget gets on an upcoming Finance Committee agenda.

Board Business:

  • Meeting minutes for March 3 and 16, 2020 sessions were approved
  • The Annual Town Meeting warrant is ‘about 75% complete’ according to the Town Administrator.
    • Board members had the following input:
    • Postpone the signing date of the Town Meeting Warrant which would move the Meeting date back
    • Mr. Ritter should look at the articles involving budgets and recommend possible cuts based on the potential for reduced revenue.
    • The Library Trustees should weigh in the article related to Library.
    • A placeholder should be installed related to the new Governance Committee soon to be appointed by the Board
  • The Board approved reserve fund transfers to cover the cost of engaging Paradigm Associates ($9,800) and advertising ($750) related to the Town Administrator search
  • The Board approved the Profile and Charter for the Town Administrator Screening Committee to be made up of five citizens.
  • The Board approved the draft Profile and Charter for the Town Governance Committee to be made up of five citizens.

Any Other Business:

  • A brief discussion was held related to collecting all expenses related to COVID-19 and asked that the Town Accountant look for trends in revenue flow that would impact FY 20 and FY 21 financials.
  • The meeting adjourned at 8:13 pm

Chris Cain

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