The Select Board’s April 5, 2021 Meeting

The Holliston Select Board met Monday, April 5, 2021.  The agenda included a progress report on traffic studies recently conducted on seven Holliston streets, some budget updates, and an updated list of Town Meeting Warrant articles.

Traffic Engineering Study Update – Streets included in study: Woodland Street. South Street, Bullard Street, Fiske Street, Lowland Street, High Street, Locust Street

The Select Board and about three dozen others heard an overview of the recently completed Traffic studies authorized at the December 5, 2020 Town Meeting.

Michael Pompili (below), representing McMahon Traffic Engineers, walked the group through what is involved in obtaining a Heavy Commercial Vehicle Exclusion on town roads.

He started with a definition of what an HCVE is – note that this is a through truck exclusion.  Trucks making a delivery on a road with an HCVE are exempt (as an example – trucks delivering to the Elementary Schools would be able to travel on Woodland St. to and from the delivery). 

It should also be noted that applying and receiving an HCVE from MassDOT is a several months long process.

He then set out what MassDOT considers to be reasons that warrant an exclusion and what data are required to support an application for an HCVE.

The following three slides show the results of the traffic studies conducted on the seven roads in question on February 25, 2021.  The 85th percentile means that 85% or less of the traffic traveled at the speeds indicated.

The entire report with hour-by-hour reporting can be found on the Town website -> https://www.townofholliston.us/home/news/traffic-engineering-review-at-select-board-meeting-tonight-april-5th

HPD Chief Matthew Stone (below) outlined what the Holliston Police will do to educate and enforce any HCVE’s that are approved for Town roads.  A traffic safety officer has been identified (Officer Charles Grace), an additional officer has been added to the motorcycle patrols expanding coverage, and that traffic safety has been, and continues to be, a top priority of HPD.

Citizens asked some questions:

  • Will Holliston coordinate with Medway regarding the HCVE for South St? Yes, Mr. Ahern and Chief Stone are in contact with their counterparts in Medway.
  • Can a no left turn for trucks onto South St. from Rt. 16 be installed.  Without an HCVE such a sign would be unenforceable.  Perhaps when / if an HCVE is approved it can be revisited.
  • Can citizens add examples of truck damage to roadways.  Yes, please send examples to Mr. Ahern.
  • Is South St a National Historic Road?  Not sure, will research this more.
  • What types of signs might be used to direct truck traffic?  Below is one example.  Another sign would simply state “Truck Route”

The Board approved sending the entire report to MassDOT to apply for HVCE on all seven roads.

Coronavirus Community update

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy provided his weekly COVID-19 to the board:

  • Holliston continues to be in the Yellow category for the 10th week in a row
  • Holliston’s positivity rate was 2.06% – below the State’s overall rate
  • MA is the number one state in terms of the number of Brazil variant cases.
  • One COVID-related fatality was added last week bring Holliston’s total to 8 deaths
55 communities are now in the Red zone.

CARES Act Programmatic update

There were no CARES Act funding requested presented to the Board this week.

Chair Cronin called on Senior Center Director Linda Marshall for an update on Holliston’s senior population with regard to getting vaccinated.  She reported that the Center’s volunteers have helped MANY seniors and that just a small number of seniors are waiting for appointments that are closer to home.

Marshall also shared that the new Director, Lisa Borchetta, started on Monday and will be working closely with Linda over the next few weeks to transition into the role.

Warrants:  The Board approved the weekly warrants totaling $2,222,874.85.

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein: Alerted the Board that the Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) has passed four requests along that will require Board action in the near future.

Comments from the Town Administrator: Mr. Ahern shared the following with the Board:

  • The Marshall Street solar project is awaiting action from Eversource.  The project managers are working on the issue. 
  • Street paving on selected roads will begin next Monday.  See the Town website for additional info (also will be posted in the Holliston Reporter in the next few days)
  • The Board will hold a Public Hearing at next week’s meeting regarding accepting Summitpointe Road as a Town road.

Open Appointed Seats on Boards / Committees – Mr. Ahernalerted citizens to the several vacancies that currently exist on appointed boards/committees.  He suggested that interested parties check out a recent Civics Sunday post to learn more and how to express interest in serving->https://hollistonreporter.com/2021/04/civics-sunday-opportunities-to-serve-holliston/

FY22 Budget vs. Revenue – Updates

Mr. Ahern reviewed the current state of the proposed budget.  There was extensive discussion as to how the Capital Expenditure Fund figure of $1,850,000 was established.  The Board was comfortable with the rationale presented by Mr. Ahern.

Dan Alfred presented the FinCom’s recommended $2,300,000 amount as a better way to add more to the Town’s long-term savings for future major projects.  He is concerned that short-term spending will prevent the Town from being able to handle crises and / or capital projects.  He illustrated his point this way: if a family chooses to spend money on a Disney vacation each year vs. adding to a college 529 savings account, when it comes time to pay for college there will not be sufficient savings.

The Board thanked Mr. Alfred for his insights and looks forward to continuing the dialogue with FinCom through the remainder of the budget cycle.

Mr. Ahern presented a plan (below) to reorganize Town Hall resources that would add horsepower to the Town Administrator’s office and formalize a Human Resources function. It would also add a flexible shared resource.

The Board supported Mr. Ahern’s proposal and approved a revised Select Board budget that includes the proposed personnel changes / additions that totals = $453,615.

The Highway Department budget has been revised following the recently approved contract.  The Board approved the revised Highway budget of $1,462,392.

Annual Town Meeting Warrant Discussion:

Mr. Ahern shared two exhibits with the Board.  The first table showed articles from previous Town Meetings that appropriated funds.  The chart showed how much was appropriated and when, how much has been spent, and the balance remaining.  He pointed out that some future articles may be able to tap into unexpended funds IF the new item matches the previous article parameters – otherwise the monies go to free cash.

Ahern also reviewed the current list of articles for the May 10th Town Meeting.  The Board discussed the very real possibility that the Meeting could go into a second night.  Discussion about grouping some items in a consent agenda is a topic for a future Board meeting.

Board Business:

  • Approved minutes from the October 10, 2019; March 15, 2021; and March 22, 2021 meetings
  • Accepted a $100 Donation to the Senior Center from the Tune Timers Band
  • Signed the Library Masonry repair contract in the amount of $74,420 with M.J.S. Construction
  • The Board approved the date change for the HHS Sr. Car Parade from May 23rd to May 22nd.

Other Business:

  • Mrs. Hein –
    • Holliston DPW recently reviewed the Front St parking and has marked out where parking will be along Front St. Hein expects to see the changes (that incorporate resident input) in the near future.
    • The Board should discuss what signage will be needed when HCVE’s are granted on Holliston’s roads
  • Mr. Cronin –
    • Asked Chief Cassidy to present his recommendations to the Board for how the upcoming Town Meeting can be held safely.  Cassidy’s report is due in a week or two.

The Board adjourned to Executive session at 9:47pm.

Chris Cain

1 Comment

  1. Daniel Alfred on April 6, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Just wanted to clarify the reporting of my statements: in early 2020 (pre-COVID) we were modeling a capital appropriation of $2 million for fiscal 2021, which was reduced when the pandemic hit in order to avoid layoffs and other cuts elsewhere. For fiscal 2022 we are trying to get back to that level. The TA’s current assumptions build in capital spending for the spring (ATM) without accounting for the anticipated capital spending in the fall. While we might have the free cash for this, we should not be budgeting/assuming for free cash in our capital spending. As we build up our capital set aside (and pay for important near term capital), we also build in eventual capacity to do larger projects and use some of that set aside to pay for debt financing annual payments WITHOUT asking tax payers to approve debt-exclusion overrides. What I was suggesting is that by making choices on current spending (and not just funding every ask), we will have the ability to pay for some of the large projects that the Select Board wants to pursue partially or fully within the budget. This is essentially like saying we wont take that extra vacation and will instead put that money aside for college tuition so that when college for the kids comes around, we don’t need to fully finance it with debt. We will have money saved to pay for some of it as well as the ability to continue to pay for some of it within our household budget. This is investing in our town and our town’s needs while also keeping an eye on the tax burden that we ask our residents to carry.

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