Select Board Continues Budget Reviews

At the appointed start time of 7:00pm on Monday, January 23, 2023, Select Board Chair Ben Sparrell called the weekly meeting to order offering an educational agenda for the evening’s discussions.

Reschedule Date of 2023 May Town Meeting

  • Originally scheduled for May 8, 2023 – Due to scheduling conflicts for key players at Town Meeting the Board asked Mr. Ahern to explore other possible dates.
  • Mr. Ahern has confirmed that all key players will be available on Monday, May 15, 2023, 7:00 PM at High School Auditorium
  • The Board unanimously approved the date change.

Mayflower Medicinal – Updated Host Community Agreement (HCA) following 5-year agreement and new cannabis

Legislation

Town Counsel Elizabeth Lydon (below left) and Mayflower Medicinal Counsel Philip Silverman presented a Successor HCA draft that would combine existing HCAs to cultivate and manufacture cannabis (no sales in Holliston) and would license Mayflower to transport product.  Recent State legislation allows for the Town to collect reimbursement for demonstrated costs of the impact of the business on the host community.

The Board wanted the language to be tweaked to make it clear that this agreement does not allow Mayflower to sell medicinal or recreational marijuana in Holliston.

The Board unanimously approved the amended language for the Successor HCA with Mayflower Medicinals at 89 October Hill Road.

Town Counsel Update on Legislative Changes to MGL c90 Section 17c

Attorney Lydon stayed on at the meeting to summarize the changes in this law that go into effect in early March 2023.  Basically, the new legislation makes it easier for the Town (through Select Board action) to regulate speeds on Town roads as well as streamlining the process to change speed limits on State roads in town.

The Board asked Mr. Ahern to request a proposal from the Town’s Public Safety (Police, Fire, DPW) officials regarding speed limits on Washington Street

Review & Approval of ARPA Steering Group Recommendations from January 19, 2023, meeting:  (The ARPA Steering Group plans to meet once / quarter in 2023.)

  • HPD/IT – Interactive Mobile Training Equipment ($10,550)
  • HR – Incentive Pay for Dispatcher Transition to RECC ($150,000 max. liability estimate)
  • Historical Society – Septic System (net of previous balance, new request $25,000)
  • Envisioning Future Holliston – consulting services (net of Town Meeting Article, new request $33,200)

The Board unanimously approved these four recommended ARPA allocations.

FY2024 Budget Reviews

  • Street Lighting (01424) $99,820

Facilities Manager James Keast (above – complete with a vacation beard) described how the new LED fixtures will be deployed across town in the coming weeks.  One neat feature is that the new bulbs will dim by 20% after 11:00pm – adding more to the savings

  • Solid Waste (01433) $1,474,188 (+ 7.12%)
  • Sustainability (01199) $51,500 (+ 3.0%)

Holliston’s Sustainability Coordinator Matt Zettek (above) shared the revenue / savings gained by the Town and its residents through the work of the Sustainability Department.

Residents of the Town who have adopted the Town’s aggregation contract for electricity generation have saved collectively over $1 million.  Also, 230 Holliston residences are enrolled in the curbside composting service saving over $5,500 in 2022.  Mr. Zettek projects the savings to only go up as the cost for solid waste removal go up each year.

The Sustainability programs – including the electricity aggregation program can be found on the Town website ->https://www.townofholliston.us/sustainability/

The Board unanimously approved these budgets be added to the proposed FY 24 budget.

Warrants:  The Board unanimously approved the weekly warrant totaling -> $512,018.16

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein:           None
  • Mr. Cronin:
    • Met with HPD Chief Stone regarding the department’s FY 24 budget proposal including three additional officers.
    • Meeting with the Park & Rec Dept as the Board’s liaison in early February
    • Had a conversation with local Cub Scouts on Holliston’s governance.
  • Mr. Sparrell:       None
    • Public:  Mrs. Hein read two e-mails from citizens into the record:
      • Christine Hunt asked if Holliston was working with the MA Water Resources Authority.  Mr. Ahern responded to Ms. Hunt.
      • Andy Reseska asked if Holliston could use ARPA funds similarly to Hopkinton to help small businesses recover from the pandemic.  He also asked about the status of Holliston’s Agricultural Commission.  Mr. Ahern will follow up to answer the questions.
    • Tim Garry asked about how an article can be added to the Spring Town Meeting warrant.  Garry also inquired about running for elected office. He was directed to the Town Clerk.
    • Joan Levinsohn (smiling below) asked how / where revenues / savings from our energy efficiency efforts go:
      • Savings from new LED streetlights go to the general fund.Some percentage of the energy generated by the Town’s solar array will go to a revolving account.
      • The new LED bulbs are “Dark Sky” compliant.

Comments from Town Administrator:  Mr. Ahern made his comments during previous discussions of this meeting and yielded his time back for Board Business.

Board Business:  The Board took the following actions:

  • Appointed Stephen Bradford, Walter McGrath, and William Withington to the Memorial Day Committee (term to expire June 2023)
  • Deferred action on the Proposal from Weston & Sampson for Evaluation of Sites, including environmental (DPW Facility) – $455,000 – until next week
  • Approved of access to Town owned site (North Cemetery) to access private site – no graves will be disturbed – contractor will repair existing damaged wall.
  • Approved a Holliston High School Student project on Town-owned land (Trails behind Pinecrest Golf Course) – mapping and marking existing trails as a National Honor Society project.

Other Business:

Mrs. Hein – The Sustainability Coordinator has really made a positive impact to the Town and its residents.  A review of his value vis-à-vis to salary seems to be warranted.

Mr. Cronin – Asked for ISO / ASO review update – impatient to hear the findings of this report to move the project forward.

Mr. Sparrell – Reviewed the Town Administrator’s performance with Mr. Ahern on Monday afternoon.  Mr. Sparrell will add a summary of the review to next week’s Board agenda.

The meeting adjourned at 9:10pm.

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Chris Cain

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