A Busy Night For The Select Board

The Select Board began its weekly meeting on December 21, 2020 at 6:30pm.  The Board held a lengthy meeting to cover several agenda topics, including the FY22 budget preparation plan.

Coronavirus Community Update

Emergency Management Director, Fire Chief Michael Cassidy had literally and figuratively a new look for his weekly update.  Above you see that the Chief moved closer to Mr. Sparrell and below you see that Cassidy had slides to share (which really caused his shift in position at the table).

He went on to illustrate that Holliston’s numbers are climbing – but not as much when compared to the neighboring area and the State.

He shared the following as an example of the public awareness campaign preceding the upcoming holidays to reduce any surge in the new year.

With the introduction of vaccines – and new ones on the way – there was some discussion about the who, when, where, how, etc. of vaccine distribution.  Basically, it is too early to know the answers to these questions.  Chief Cassidy did remind everyone that even with vaccines rolling out in the coming months, the public health measures (Washing, Wearing a Mask, Watching Distance) will likely continue into next Fall.

The HPD has posted the following warning.  Unfortunately, there are those who look to capitalize on our worries about this disease.

CARES Act Programmatic update (With the recent passage of another COVID relief bill, the year-end accounting that was planned for the end of the CARES Act was not necessary tonight.)

The Board approved two requests to be charged to the COVID-related funds:

  • $2,700 to purchase 10 Air Purifiers for use in municipal offices.
  • $600 to program existing air handlers at the Town Hall and Senior Center.

Warrants – The Board approved warrants totaling $2,277,263.45.

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Sparrell: Happy Holidays and please be safe.
  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Is focused on turning tax dollars towards Town operations – looking forward to the budget process
    • Very disappointed with the snow removal from roads and sidewalks following last week’s storm.
  • Mr. Cronin:
    • Echoed Mrs. Hein’s comments about snow removal.
    • Asked Mr. Ahern to conduct and After-Action Review to learn what is needed to improve the response to the next storm.  Asked Mr. Ahern to report back to the Board
    • Expressed his sadness due to a recent local tragedy and his support for all those needing mental health assistance.  Holliston’s Youth and Family Services is a valuable local resource.  Senator Spilka offers #MoreToTheStory for support.
    • Offered his Holiday wishes to our Town employees and his fellow Board members and the Town Administrator
    • Cronin pointed to several recent demonstrations of Holliston at its best: the recent Sr. Ctr. Holiday Party, the Lions Santa parades, HPD’s Fill-a-cruiser effort in support of Toys for Tots
  • Public:
    • Sr. Ctr. Director Linda Marshall added that she is “overwhelmed by the generosity” in support of the Gifts for Seniors program.  This year over 250 seniors will receive gifts in the next couple of days – many collected and wrapped by Girl Scout Troop 75346.  Director Marshall also recognized the Holliston VFW who delivers meals to 40 seniors one Sunday each month.
    • Andres Vargas (below), a Curve Street resident thanked the Board for their response to the unsatisfactory snow removal.  He added that he wonders how the Town can prevent private plow companies from piling snow on public property and roads.

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • Mr. Ahern referenced a contract extension between the DPW workers that was signed by the Board at a brief meeting held on Friday, December 18, 2020.  The bargaining unit agreed to the extension through June 2021 which became effective Monday, December 21, 2020.
  • Ahern asked the Board for some input regarding the next steps for the 9 Green Street property that has an active quote for developing a demolition and remediation plan.  The discussion will continue at the next Board meeting

Review Schedule for 2021 Annual Town Meeting, Special Town Meeting and Town Election

The Board approved the following 2021 dates:

Town Meeting: Commencing on Monday, May 10, 2021

Town Election: Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Special Town Meeting: Commencing on Monday, October 25, 2021

Hearing for the Alcohol Enthusiast d/b/a Crafted for change of license from Wine and Malt off-premises to All Alcohol Package off-premises store.

The Hearing was called to order at 7:31pm.

Mr. Vargas spoke as an abutting neighbor.  He prefaced his remarks by stating that “Ken Onofrey is a wonderful person.”  Vargas raised several safety and inconvenience issues related to the traffic / parking related to the business. 

Mr. Onofrey spoke in response to Mr. Vargas’ concerns.  While Mr. Onofrey owns the business, he does not own the building / property.  The landlord has not been willing to remedy the concerns raised by Mr. Vargas.

The Board approved the expanded liquor license as the concerns raised during the Hearing were not directly related to the proper sales of alcohol as stipulated in the license.  Mrs. Hein will follow up with other Town agencies who may be able to influence the landlord to take steps to remediate Mr. Vargas’ concerns.

The Hearing was closed at 8:06pm

FY 22 Budget discussion

Mr. Ahern provided the following info:

  • Department Heads have been asked to prepare a ‘level-service’ FY22 – this is NOT zero increase as costs for the same service can go up year over year
  • He presented the tentative budget preparation schedule (below)

The Board provided the following input to guide Mr. Ahern’s budget preparation:

  • The Board is looking forward to working with Mr. Ahern and the FinCom to build the proposed FY22!
  • The available revenue should be maximized and optimized in the annual budget
  • We should ask ‘Why do we do things the way we do them?’ to validate current needs
  • Develop a 3-year Budget – to – Revenue projection
  • Have a long-term thought process / strategic plan
  • Non-union employees should be compensated to attract and retain the best workers
  • How much Free Cash is enough?
  • How much should be in the Stabilization Fund?

Board Business:

  • Accepted a donation of $1,000 to Youth & Family Services from Wolf & Co
  • Approved the ABCC 2021 Seasonal Population Increase Estimation – Holliston has 15,189 inhabitants
  • Approved the Meeting Minutes of November 30, 2020

Other Business:

  • Board Members: None
  • Mr. Ahern:
    • Asked the Board to approve an increase to $5,000 / month for legal fees to include litigation.  The Board approved the requested increase
    • Asked the Board to 1) direct HPD Chief Stone to site the new 25 mph speed limit signs, and 2) direct the DPW to install the needed signs prior to January 1, 2021.  The Board approved both requested actions.
  • Chief Cassidy asked the Board to review and authorize the Chair to sign, on behalf of the Town, a certificate allowing a local business to replace 24 existing storage tanks with the same number of new tanks.  The Board authorized Chair Cronin to sign the necessary document.

After wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, the Board adjourned at 8:52pm.

Chris Cain

1 Comment

  1. Pat Fuller on December 23, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    This seems so thorough-Thanks especially for so many of us who could not attend.

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