Select Board Meets Remotely

Using the revised Open Meeting Law guidelines outlined last month by Governor Baker, the Select Board held its weekly meeting from separate locations, with many citizens joining via Zoom and telephone conferences.  All votes were done by roll call and participants clearly stated their names before speaking.  The meeting was also available via HCAT’s Facebook Live stream.

The meeting was called to order by Select Board Chair Mark Ahronian at 7:03 pm.

COVID-19 Update: Fire Chief Michael Cassidy, in his role as Emergency Management Director shared the current state of the virus in Holliston.

  • Holliston now has 30 total cases (a 66% increase since last Monday): 16 recovered; 1 fatality; 13 active cases
  • There has been an increase in cases at long-term care facilities – both residents and staff.
  • He will recommend at tomorrow’s Board of Health meeting that face coverings be worn by everyone when outside of their home.
  • Health Director, Scott Moles has a supply of masks for those who do not have another source.  He can be contacted by phone or e-mail to request a mask.
  • The State will be providing support to Holliston nursing homes, etc. based on a state-wide priority system
  • IF the Board of Health votes to ‘strongly recommend’ that all citizens wear face coverings when outside at tomorrow’s meeting – the rule would go into effect later this week.

Warrants: This week’s warrant was approved at the April 23, 2020 Select Board meeting.

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein: The Pantry Shelf delivered 400 bags of food to 140 clients last week.  There continues to be a need for donations of food and funding.  Pantry Shelf Website
  • Mr. Cronin – No comment
  • Mr. Ahronian – Commended the citizens for their dedication to Holliston’s response to this pandemic.  Specifically, he mentioned: The Holliston Food Pantry; Jennifer Stucchi and crew; Senior Center Staff; Lions Club; Board of Health; Chief Cassidy; and Jeff Ritter.  He ended by saying, ‘thank you all.’

Town Administrator Report:

  • Mr. Ritter added his commendations to the HPD, HFD / EMT. DPW. Senior Center Staff, and the Town Hall employees who maintain coverage / service for the citizens of Holliston.
  • The review of the Revised FY 21 proposed budget will begin next week.

Mrs. Hein asked about the status of crossing signals at Pinecrest at the two locations where the golfers cross Prentice Street.  Mr. Ritter identified that $16,000 would be available (as of today) and that both light sets would cost $24,000.  The Board approved a motion for the Town Administrator to coordinate with the Golf Course Advisory Committee to either: 1) make up the $8,000 short fall from existing funds so BOTH signal sets can be installed – OR 2) prioritize which of the two crossings should have the signals installed.

Financial Impact of COVID-19:

The Board Chair reviewed the actions taken to date by the Select Board to prepare for potential revenue shortfalls due to the pandemic: a spending freeze for FY 20 and a letter informing Committees and Departments that a 0% increase target is in place for FY 21 budgets.

Finance Committee Chair, Ken Szajda, weighed in with some data.

  • It is likely that there will be a 15 – 20% decrease in State support for FY 21
  • We should NOT rely on the Stabilization Fund as a solution, ‘it is a bridge not a panacea.’
  • The revenue / budget is very much a fluid situation at this point.
  • More time and health care data should help clarify the picture.
  • He reminded everyone that the High School Bond debt has been paid off and that will reduce our overall property tax burden.
Ken Szajda comments about the Town’s financial situation

Annual Town Meeting Warrant: 

  • Edits continue to be made. 
  • Mrs. Hein requested that an additional Article be added to create a Revolving Account to fund the Sustainability Coordinator position.  Mr. Ritter will draft such an article.
  • Next week the Board will review the Town Meeting and Election dates based on Gubernatorial guidance available at the next Select Board meeting.

Town Administrator Screening Committee:

  • Seven members have been notified of their appointments.
  • The committee members’ names and e-mail addresses have been forwarded to Paradigm Associates the Town’s search firm to fill the open position.
  • The position has been advertised and applications are due by May 22, 2020.

Year-end Transfers:

  • Mr. Ritter will have the list of needed transfers from the Town Accountant by April 30th.
  • The Board will begin voting on the transfers at next week’s meeting.

Other Business:

  • As a follow up to last week’s discussion about large trucks using residential streets near the Lowland Street Industrial Park, HPD Chief Matthew Stone has drafted an advisory memo to the businesses in the Park (which the Board will review next week).  Also, Mr. Cronin asked Mr. Ritter to discuss with Town Counsel what other legal actions might be taken by the Board to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
  • Mr. Ahronian provided an update on the status of the Town Hall septic system replacement.  Committee Chair Paul Saulnier met with the Select Board Chair and shared the following:
    • The soil test was completed and it passed
    • The plans for the new system have been completed
    • The next step is determining the cost to complete the work.
  • Mr. Cronin pointed out the lack of a functional septic system has closed the Upper Town Hall as a revenue generator.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:03 pm.

Chris Cain

1 Comment

  1. Susan Haley on April 28, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Happy to see that the High School Bond debt has been paid off. Even happier to see Chief Cassidy’s recommendation that face coverings be worn by everyone when outside the home. I assume this will apply to employees at local stores that are still open and serving the public.

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