Select Board Meets on October 4, 2021

The Holliston Select Board began its October 4, 2021 meeting at 7:02pm.  Chair Tina Hein referenced the full agenda and that some items would be moved around to best utilize everyone’s time.

Town Financial Policies Discussion

The Select Board (above) and representatives from the Finance Committee (below) engaged in what one participant called a “spirited discussion” on the draft financial policies being crafted by the two elected bodies.  There were several areas of agreement in the document prepared by Town Administrator Ahern and the Town’s Financial Management team.  The area that drew the most disagreement was the amount of OPEB funding stipulated by the policy.  The Select Board and Mr. Ahern believe that $1.25 Million per year will meet the existing liability no later than 2037.  $250,000 that has been part of the OPEB’s $1.5M annual payment would go to meeting the MetroWest retirement existing liability.  The Finance Committee members made their case for keeping OPEB funding at $1.5M to meet the obligation earlier than 2037.  Their recommendation would be to put $250,000 from Free Cash to meet the MetroWest retirement obligation.

FinCom Chair Dr. Ken Szajda (top), Dan Alfred (bottom left), Vin Murphy (bottom right)

Both parties challenged the other group’s sources of data.  Of concern is the changing investment income picture and the future of federal retirement programs.  Maintaining the Town’s current AAA bond rating is a goal of these financial policies – when approved.

This discussion ended with a request that Mr. Ahern take the input gathered back to the Financial Management team along with outside financial professionals to re-draft the proposed policies.

Discussion of Ownership Options for Streetlights in Holliston

IT Director Chris Meo (right) joined the Board to share information about Street Light Ownership and the Annual Green Community report.  The Town recently learned from Eversource that the rental rate for the approximately 950 streetlights in town would nearly triple beginning in January 2022.  This led to the option to buy the light fixtures (bulbs and arms) from Eversource and assume the ongoing maintenance for blown out bulbs.  The long-range opportunity is when the Town owns the fixtures, LED bulbs can be installed, realizing tremendous electricity cost savings.

The Board authorized the Town Administrator and Town Counsel to negotiate a Purchase and Sales agreement for the 950 fixtures to be effective by January 2022.

Green Community Report

Mr. Meo presented highlights from the Holliston’s Green Community annual report to the Board.  Meo noted that since being designated a Green Community in 2015, Holliston has made steady progress in its energy usage.  One blip was noted this past year.  Heating costs went up in some buildings so that windows could remain open for adequate fresh air.

The Board approved the submission of the report which is due to the State’s Dept of Energy Resources Green Communities Division no later than November 1, 2021.

CARES Act / ARPA Programmatic update; COVID-19 Community update

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy joined the Board for what Mr. Sparrell called, “Mondays with the Chief.”  Cassidy presented three requests for some of the remaining CARES Act funds:

  • IT Department = $170 computer equipment
  • Council on Aging = $3,100 for touchless fixtures at the Sr. Ctr.
  • Facilities Dept = $5,000 for a water bottle filling station / water fountain at 1750 Washington St.

The Board approved the total of $8,270 be expended from the Town’s CARES Act funds.

Use of CARES Act funds ends on October 29, 2021.  The Chief and the ARPA Steering Group will be reviewing ongoing needs for supplies / services that would be ARPA eligible.  The next ARPA Steering Group meeting, which is open to the public, will be on October 20, 2021.

Warrants The Board approved the weekly warrant totaling $1,356,831.64.

Public Comment:

Mrs. Hein noted the framed American Flag and Certificate that was presented to the Select Board for display in the Town Hall.  The flag/certificate (below) were presented to the Town by Walter McGrath, Adjutant Legion Post 47, on behalf of the post.  The flag / certificate were sent to Holliston’s American Legion post by Army Captain Mitch Gannon who had the flag flown over his base in the Middle East.

  • Mr. Cronin:
    • He apologized for missing last week’s filming of HCAT’s “What Do You Know?”
    • The Winter Street water main replacement project was completed on September 22, 2021 – ahead of schedule and under budget!  Winter Street will be repaved in its entirety in Spring 2022.
    • He is looking for an update on the Marshall St. solar project at a future Select Board meeting.
  • Mr. Sparrell:
    • Reported that he and Mr. Cronin’s stand-in Dylan McDonald had a great time.  The show has not yet aired so no discussion about the outcome was mentioned. Mr. Murphy chimed in that he and his partner Mark Whittaker had a great time as well and laid down a challenge for a possible rematch. . . .
    • The Town’s Agricultural Commission is looking for new resources to manage the Pinecrest public gardens for the Town.  Deb Moore and Adam Taylor (below) are interested in taking on the garden plot management to keep the resource available to residents.  Further discussion will be held after Town Meeting.
  • Mrs. Hein:
    • The Town’s Complete Streets Tier 3 application has been submitted.
  • Public:
    • Chief Cassidy reported that the School Department, HPD, and HFD personnel conducted scenario-based training on emergency incidents the Town could face.  An added benefit was that these public officials got to meet one another, perhaps for the first time.

Comments from Town Administrator

  • The Town Meeting Warrant was posted on the Town website last Friday.  See it here -> Holliston Fall Town Meeting Warrant
  • Local Rapid Recovery Plan consultants will deliver their final report to the Town on October 8, 2021.
  • Receiving quotes on dam work to make necessary changes.
  • Planning to meet with MassDOT to discuss Transportation Bond funds for Holliston.

Review of Vacant Seats on Committees

Mr. Ahern called on Hollistonians to volunteer time and fill a vacant seat on an appointed Committee.

Click here -> https://www.townofholliston.us/town-clerk/pages/committee-vacancies to see the most current list of vacancies.  Interested volunteers should contact Mr. Ahern ahernt@hollistonk12.ma.us or the Town Clerk.

Board Business:

  • Approved the Community Farm’s 4th Annual Haunted Walk 10-30-21 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Approved the Newcomers & Neighbors Halloween Rail Trail Walk October 31, 2021 10:00 to noon
  • Approved minutes of the September 13, 2021 meeting
  • Approved minutes, but not to release, from Executive Sessions on July 12, 2021; Sept. 27, 202; July 19, 2021(with release no sooner than Nov. 1)
  • Approved Snow & Ice Contractor Rate Adjustments for 2021-2022 (Rates adjusted based on comparison with neighboring communities)
  • Authorized the Town Administrator and Town Counsel to finalize temporary construction site access related to 9 Green Street Demolition
  • Accepted the $100 donation to the Senior Center from Ann Mahaney.
  • Appointed Mary Greendale to the Historical Commission. Term to expire June 2022
  • Approved a One- Day beer & wine license for Crafted 10-17-21 Fall Fest at 45 Chestnut

Other Business:

  • Mr. Cronin:
    • Overnight on-street parking Winter Ban begins November 1, 2021.
    • Curbside compostable-bagged leaf pickup will take place the week of November 29, 2021.  Leaves should be at curb by 6:00am on the day of normal trash pickup.
  • Mr. Sparrell: None
  • Mrs. Hein: Would like to have a future Select Board discussion on editing by-laws.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:16pm.  The next Select Board meeting will be on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

Chris Cain

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