Select Board Meeting Draws A Crowd

Select Board Chair, Mark Ahronian presides over his last meeting as Chair.

The Select Board held a joint session with the School Committee on Monday evening. School Committee Chair, Stacey Raffi was in the conference room with the Select Board while many members and citizens joined virtually as seen below.

Note that our Town Administrator-designate Travis Ahern attended.

The guests of honor were State Senate President, Karen Spilka and State Representative, Carolyn Dykema.

Senator Spilka, left and Representative Dykema, right

In their separate remarks they shared the following:

  • They recognized the Town leadership ‘for really stepping up’ and thanked them for their efforts – especially at this challenging time
  • The State budget is impacted by a two-fold crisis; public health needs and negative revenue
  • 3 factors influence FY 21 budget planning:
    • COVID future
    • Unknown decline in revenue (may be as much as $6 Billion)
    • Availability of Federal funds
  • They encouraged the Town, as the State government leaders have, to write to our Federal delegation expressing need for more funds
  • The State legislature passed a 1/12 budget of $5.25 Billion which keeps aids to towns at the same level as FY 20
  • They hope to know more about the FY 21 revenue by later in July or August
  • Spilka recognized Select Board member Tina Hein for her efforts to improve transportation safety in Holliston
  • Several bills are on deck: EEE funding, racial justice, lower prescription drug costs, mental health care, and continuing tele-medicine
  • With the start of re-opening 2.2 today, Dykema is ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the future
  • Two matching grant programs focused on IT and town government in the works
  • Dykema, a Holliston resident, highlighted the Town election and the Town Clerk, Liz Greendale provided input to the State’s election guidance
  • Dykema is concerned that mental health needs will be long-standing issue
  • Both wished Superintendent Brad Jackson and Town Administrator, Jeff Ritter the best in the next phases of their lives

Questions from the Board and School Committee Budget sub-committee covered the following:

  • Will there be a streamlined FY 21 State budget process? YES
  • Still awaiting DESE guidelines to plan School budget
SC Budget sub-committee members Anne Louis Hanstad, left and Lisa Kocian, right had questions for the Senator and Representative

Anne Louise Hanstad asked for more detail on the matching IT grant. The bill has not passed. If it does, it may be used to offset CARES Act funding. Lisa Kocian asked about how to go about advocating for Holliston’s financial needs. Samples of the State’s letter will be shared with the Board and SC.

Throughout the hour plus conversation, all parties expressed their deep appreciation for the work done by the others during this crisis.

Public Comment:

  • Tina Hein – The Holliston Household Hazardous Waste Disposal day is Saturday, July 11, 2020 from 9 – Noon at Adams Middle School
  • John Cronin – Welcomed HFD’s new Engine 1; he highlighted HPD’s recent successful re-accreditation and thanked HFD and HPD for their efforts in keeping last Friday’s Diverse Holliston protest walk safe as it traveled through downtown.
  • Mark Ahronian – Thanked everyone for their support, guidance, and hard work during his term on the Board – especially his year as Chair
  • Stacey Raffi, from just off camera in the meeting room, thanked Mr. Ahronian for his ‘graceful leadership’.

COVID-19 Update:

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy updates the Board
  • COVID case count remains at 56 (51 recovered, 2 fatalities, and 3 active cases
  • The $1.3 Million CARES Act funding is in the Holliston bank account!
  • The needed guidance for disbursing / tracking the funds has been received
  • Able to track funds in Town’s accounting system

Following the Chief’s update, the Board approved two motions: Directed the Town’s Emergency Management Director (Chief Cassidy) to provide the Board with weekly updates for Board review/approval; Directed the Town Acccountant to set up the necessary accounts. Following a question from Mrs. Hanstad, the Chief will provide a guidance document relating to requests for CARES Act reimbursement.

Warrants: The Board approved the warrants totaling $712,008.22

Town Administrator report:

  • Pinecrest doors and painting are nearly complete
  • 260 Woodland Street cleanup done by next Thursday
  • The safety barriers at Town Hall should be installed by June 24th.
  • There is a public meeting with the Planning Board on June 30, 2020 regarding the Lowland Industrial Park
  • Thank you Dr. Jackson for being a great partner
  • Thank you Mr. Ahronian for your sage guidance

Water Topics: Sean Reese, DPW Director

Sean Reese updates the Board on water-related topics

The water rate study will be completed this Wednesday and the results and the Water Rate Hearing will be on next Monday’s Board agenda. The data will be posted on the Town website.

The Water Treatment Plant project is about six months behind plan. Mr. Reese reviewed the updated project timeline, which will be posted / updated on the Town website. The latest possible completion date is the Summer of 2022.

Town Meeting plan:

Chief Cassidy returned to share his findings from his research of area Town Meetings. Many options are available for Holliston. Some are: hold at HHS with seating changes; use Miller cafeteria with flexible seating; outdoors. Each has its pros and cons. All allow for the 100 person quorum to be maintained. No decision was made last night. Whatever the plan, the Town needs to follow Southboro’s communication plan to manage meeting- goers expectations.

Town Meeting Warrant and Capital request

The School Committee asked for a one week extension to present its Capital request

The Board continued its edits and changes for the Town Meeting Warrant. There are currently 27 Articles in the Warrant.

Year-end Transfers

Town Accountant, Sharon Emerick reviews the transfers with the Board

The Board approved approximately $150,000 of departmental line item transfers from eleven different departments.

Other Business:

The Board approved the following:

  • Appointed Mrs. Hein as Holliston’s representative to the MetroWest Regional Collaborative
  • The Board will meet weekly through the end of December 2020
  • The two year lease for Veterans’ Services at 1750 Washington Street
  • Direct Mr. Ritter to draft an advocacy letter from the Board to U.S. Representative Clark

Mr. Cronin said goodbye to Mr. Ahronian and thanked him for his deep commitment to Holliston. He thanked Mr. Ahronian for his service on the Board.

Mr. Ahronian wished the new Board good luck in its upcoming term.

The meeting adjourned at 9:48 pm.

Chris Cain

1 Comment

  1. Mrs Therese Stewart on June 23, 2020 at 8:54 am

    Thank you Mr. Cain for these reports on the meetings. Your well organized and detailed information has been greatly appreciated!

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