Select Board Reviews Detailed Fall Town Meeting Warrant

The Holliston Select Board met on Monday, September 19, 2022, to attend to a “purposeful agenda” as mentioned by Chair Ben Sparrell as he called the meeting to order. As seen below the Board met in two separate locations.  Mr. Sparrell reviewed the special provisions for holding a meeting with remote participation and all votes were by roll call – beginning with attendance.

Preparation for Oct. 17, 2022, Fall Town Meeting:

About two-thirds of the meeting time was devoted to reviewing the content for the Town’s Fall Town Meeting.  Currently, there are 29 articles on the Warrant.  Meeting logistics (below) were also part of the discussion.

  • Time / Location: 7:00 PM in High School Auditorium
    • HCAF to provide free childcare on-site during Town Meeting – cafeteria free of charge – donations welcomed
  • Pre-Town Meeting Forum (Warrant Review) – Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Upper Town Hall at 7:30PM This is a NEW approach to allow the public to preview the warrant articles and learn more about each item to have voters make informed decisions at Town Meeting.  This meeting will be in the hybrid format with in-person and Zoom participation options. Representatives from NEAG are expected to be at this meeting to answer questions related to the proposed operation in Holliston.
  • Article submission for inclusion in the Fall Town Meeting Warrant closed at 4:00pm on September 19, 2022.

Mr. Ahern led a detailed discussion of each of the twenty-nine articles.

Mr. Ahern is proposing that the Town establish a “Programmatic Stabilization Fund” as outlined in the excerpt of the memo (below) that was distributed to Town leaders on Monday.

An example of how this fund would be used in the very near future to cover a pressing public safety need moving toward an Advanced Life Support level of EMS services.  The expectation is that the upfront expense paid from this stabilization fund will repay the fund in the future from additional billable revenue.

The Capital Budget, Article 5 was reviewed.  Chief Michael Cassidy, Chief Matthew Stone, and Asst Superintendent for Operations / Finance Keith Buday were available in the room to answer any questions from the Board. There were no questions for Chief Cassidy or Chief Stone.

Mr. Buday, left addresses the Board.

Above, Mr. Buday answers questions from Mr. Cronin regarding past capital appropriations totaling nearly $1.9 million.  Approximately $900,000 is still available to complete projects that have been deferred until needed or delayed by the pandemic.  The schools’ 2022 capital requests will be voted on at the next School Committee meeting.

Following a joint meeting of the Finance Committee and the Select Board held last month, a four-member working group was formed to review FinCom and SB capital priorities.  Mr. Cronin represented the Select Board.  Finance Committee members are Jay Robinson, Michelle Zeamer, and Dan Alfred (L-R below)

Mr. Cronin and the FinCom representatives agreed that the process was very productive, and they plan to continue to have informal discussions on an ongoing basis.  They are looking forward to presenting a unified front at the upcoming Town Meeting.  The working group is supporting funding for Article 18 and Article 20.  Mrs. Hein expressed disappointment that the comprehensive water main, drainage/paving, and sidewalks along Norfolk St was not recommended by the sub-group. 

The Board thanked the sub-group for its work and commitment to continue the inter-board dialogue.

The Board unanimously approved closing the Warrant with further refinement discussion at the next meeting targeting September 30,2022, as the date the Warrant will be posted.

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly warrant totaling – $1,037,414.98

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein – None
  • Mr. Cronin – Gave a heads up that new MassDEP regulations going into effect in November will likely impact our bulky waste pickup program – details to come
  • Mr. Sparrell – None
  • Public:
    • Chris Pierce asked two questions: Has EMS response time decreased during the current test of EMS staffing? Is there pay parity between FF and EMS personnel at similar grades / length of service?  Mr. Ahern will follow up with the answers.
    • Liz Bourque-Theiler: Implored the Board to spend more money to move Holliston’s EMS service level to ALS as soon as possible.  The proposed timeline is too slow from her vantage point.

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • 30-day check-in on Dog Hearing from August 16, 2022.  The Town Animal Control Officer reported that the required conditions for the restraint of the dangerous dog are in place.  Mr. Ahern was to follow up to ensure that the dog owner paid financial restitution to the injured dog’s owner.  The situation will continue to be monitored.
  • Bids are in for the town-wide plan to convert the current streetlights to LED bulbs – within the budgeted amount.  The first phase is underway to plan how many LED fixtures are needed (LED bulbs create light over a larger area).  IT Director Chris Meo, Sustainability Coordinator Matt Zettek, and Facilities Manager James Keast were instrumental in Holliston receiving this Green Communities grant.

Board Business:

  • Approved the minutes of August 15, 2022, meeting
  • Approved the Beer & Wine license for October 1, 2022, and request for the waiver of fees for “Cycle for Life”
  • Approved the event permit October 2, 2022, for Juniper Road @ Kim Place Block Party
  • Approved the event permit for the KofC Mystery Rallye Fundraiser on October 9, 2022
  • Approved the event permit for the Farm Haunted Walk October 22, 2022, Rogers Road
  • Approved the event permit for the Great Pumpkin Walk October 30, 2022, Rail Trail
  • Appointed Carl Damigella, to the Housing Authority. Term through May 2023
  • Approved the one-day beer and wine license, Crafted October 1, 2022, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Arcadian Farm
  • Proclaimed the Celebrate Holliston Citizens of the Year: Sheila Adams and Ken Szajda
  • Approved the Common Victualler’s License Celebrate Holliston September 24th at Goodwill Park
  • Approved the request to waive the fee for the Common Victualler’s License for Celebrate Holliston
  • Waived the liquor license for the 25th anniversary of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation bike ride at Fatima Shrine

Other Business:

  • Signed the Deed for a portion of Indian Ridge Road South.  The remaining property transfer will be signed next week.

The meeting adjourned at 9:28pm. Next week’s meeting will continue fleshing out the Fall Town Meeting warrant. In other words, if you liked tonight’s discussion, you’ll probably love next week’s meeting.

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Chris Cain

2 Comments

  1. Liz Theiler on September 22, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    Where are Holliston’s priorities? The health of all residents?
    The school has $1.9 million in capital expenditures. This is more than Holliston’s total Fire and Ambulance Budget!
    If $1.9 million was added to the fire and ambulance budget Holliston would have a full time Fire Department and ALS service.
    If 1.9 million were added to Holliston’s Fire and Ambulance budget our budget would be greater than the total budget for Ashland, Medway, Millis and 1 million short of Hopkinton’s budget of course Hopkinton has a higher population than Holliston.
    Let your support be heard for proper funding of the Fire and progress to ALS ambulance service.

  2. Daniel Alfred on September 22, 2022 at 7:17 pm

    Liz, I admire your passion and advocacy for this very important issue. I do just want to clarify something though that you brought up. The $1.9m that was discussed as capital for the schools was money allocated by town meeting for different school projects over at least 3 years. It’s also one time money since it is capital. So it doesn’t repeat and therefore doesn’t need to be budgeted for each year. If we added $1.9m to the fire department budget, we would need to include that amount in the budget annually in perpetuity. So over 3 years it would actually be equivalent to spending $5.7m. I don’t think that necessarily detracts from your point that we likely need to spend more on our fire/EMS (especially EMS) budgets, but we also want to make sure we compare similar types of spending.

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