Awards and Taxes on the Select Board Agenda
On Monday, November 14, 2022, the Holliston Select Board began the evening in Upper Town Hall presenting the fourth annual Humanitarian Awards to three deserving recipients. Below, Chair Ben Sparrell welcomes those assembled and viewing via Zoom.
Mrs. Hein awarded citations from the Select Board and State Senator Spilka to Eagle Scout candidate Andrew McWilliams for his canoe / kayak storage project at Pleasure Point (below).
Mr. Cronin presented his award in absentia to Chris Lencini the owner of the Holliston Superette. Mr. Lencini continually supports town-wide events and initiatives. Mr. Cronin acknowledged that when he approached Mr. Lencini, Chris initially declined the recognition pointing to others in town who do so much. Mr. Lencini was absent from the ceremony because he was indeed “minding the store.”
Mr. Sparrell recognized Robert Weidknecht for his continuing efforts to improve and maintain one of the Town’s most visible and valuable assets, the 6.7-mile Upper Charles Rail Trail. Robert has brought this recreational area from an abandoned train track to a park that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to / through town each year.
The Board members moved downstairs to convene the weekly meeting which was called to order by Chair Sparrell at 7:01 pm noting that the Board would be handling a “necessary” agenda – handling business that needs to be done annually at this time of year.
Update on Water Treatment Plant at Well No. 5
The planned update from DPW Director Sean Reese was postponed due to Mr. Reese’s unexpected absence. Mr. Ahern pointed out that the most recent update on the project can be found on the Town’s website -> https://www.townofholliston.us/home/pages/information-on-town-projects
The pictures below show the facility as of the most recent update posted on the website.
The Town has received MassDEP approval for the new facility and that operator training is underway. Mr. Reese will provide the most recent status when he able to meet with the Board in the near future.
Warrants: The Board unanimously approved the weekly warrant totaling -> $734,972.93
- Mrs. Hein: Reminded all about the Winter Parking Ban and curbside leaf pickup during the week of 11/28/2022
- Mr. Cronin: Thanked Steve Bradford, Bobby Blair, Commanders Turcotte and DeGanne, and the Holliston Lions for putting together this year’s Veterans Day Observance and Luncheon
- Mr. Sparrell: None
- Public: None
Comments from Town Administrator: Mr. Ahern provided the following updates:
- The next ARPA Steering Group meeting will be at Noon on November 29, 2022.
- Holliston farmers have been asked for feedback. The feedback is due by November 17, 2022.
- The MAPC in conjunction with Holliston’s Economic Development Committee continue to work – next session to be held in December – draft report target date is February 2023, with project completion March 31, 2023.
- The Asst Town Administrator is compiling the Winter quarterly Hometown newsletter. Please contact Mr. Ahern or Ms. Buckley regarding possible content.
Tax Classification Hearing – FY23 Tax Rate Setting
Principal Assessor Kevin Rudden (below center), Assistant Principal Assessor Sherrie Bates (below left) and Board of Assessor (BoA) Chair Mary Greendale (below right) were joined by BoA member Jeff Marshall via Zoom to present their recommendations regarding the FY 23 tax rate and applicable exemptions.
Mr. Rudden provided a slide presentation to help rate payers understand how the annual rate is set along with the BoA recommendations regarding various tax rate options. While there are several slides that provide backup information, the slides below framed in green provide the math that turns Town Meeting approved spending into a tax rate and tax bill.
As has happened in recent years, the tax rate goes down (this year $1.98 / $1,000) AND the value of the property goes up resulting in a tax bill that increases (for most people).
It is important to note that these figures are NOT final until Holliston receives approval from the MA Department of Revenue (DOR).
The remaining slides are informative and in the case of the five marijuana cultivators operating in Holliston, a growing source of tax revenue, that Holliston’s assessors have led the way in calculating the value of such operations, yielding us a hefty one-time revenue increase.
It is important to note that there is approximately a 12 – 18-month lag between real estate valuation. Sales data for the preceding year(s) impact the tax rate. Real estate sold between Jan. 2022 and Dec. 2022 will affect the FY 24 tax rate.
The very low number of abatements reflects the accuracy of property assessments for the past year.
The Tax Rate Hearing was officially opened at 8:16pm. Members of the Board had a few questions that Mr. Rudden explained. Barbara Peatie asked if her house in Mudville was valued similarly to the million-dollar homes in town. Mr. Rudden noted that all assessed values are done using comparable homes in the same area. Mr. Marshall, a BoA member, works in the banking sector, he called the recent escalating housing costs to a “perfect storm” of forces driving up demand while restricting supply. Having responded to all input / questions, the Hearing was closed at 8:36pm.
The Board took the following actions:
- No dual tax rate for residential and commercial
- A single rate of $15.40 / $1,000 value (pending DOR approval)
- No residential exemption
- No Open Space exemption
- No Small Commercial exemption (pending DOR approval)
- Approved the necessary excess levy capacity (pending DOR approval)
Board Business: The Board took the following actions:
- Approved the Select Board Letter of Support for Safe Routes to School (STRS) Program through MassDOT. The Board thanked citizens and committees that sent letters of support for this grant application.
- Appointed Vladimir Nechev, as an Associate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for a term to expire June 2023
- Appointed Firefighters and/or EMTs through June 30, 2023:
- Paul Jameson, Firefighter
- Nicholas Cutone, Firefighter / EMT
- Steven Garrett, Firefighter / EMT
- Brendan Malone, Firefighter / EMT
- Accepted a $5,000 donation of time and work to Community Farm from Dellicker Excavating
- Approved the minutes of the October 11, 2022, meeting and the Dog Hearing held that night
- Approved the Community Farm Bonfire December 31, 2022, 6:00 to 10:00
Other Business: – Review of the Humanitarian Awards noted earlier in this report.
The meeting adjourned at 8:44pm.
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