Select Board Opens FY 24 Budget Discussions

Holliston Select Board Chair Ben Sparrell convened the Board’s weekly meeting this week on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, at 7:03pm.  He offered a budgetary agenda for the evening’s session.

Before diving into budget reviews, the Board heard an Alternatives Analysis presentation from Allen Orsi, SVP of PARE Corporation (below left), related to the recently completed review of the Lake Winthrop Dam.

Mr. Orsi laid out the options available to the Town to repair / rehabilitate the existing dam.  This assessment was delayed several months to determine whether the Town or the State had jurisdiction over the structure.

The slides below present the findings and actions available to the Town for extending the dam’s usefulness.

The area outlined below in yellow illustrated the potential hazard area if the dam were to fail.  No homes or roads would be affected if such an incident were to occur.

Below is the finding issued by the Office of Dam Safety which releases the Town from previous requirements AND expects the Town to maintain the existing structure.

Mr. Orsi concluded by saying that most of the recommended maintenance could be accomplished by the Town’s DPW.  PARE Corporation will continue to explore grant opportunities that would support the recommended work.

The Board thanked Mr. Orsi for the report (which will be posted to the Town website shortly).  Decisions regarding the needed action / funding will be made at a future meeting.

The Board jumped ahead at this point to receive the $45,000 check from representatives of Celebrate Holliston to be used for the Blair Square redevelopment project (see details in Board Business below).

Then on to the highlight of this agenda (and several weeks to come), proposed FY 24 budgets.

FY2024 Budget DiscussionNOTE: Departmental Budgets due 1/20/23

  • Select Board Budget (01122) $426,726 (+ 5.89%)
  • Sealer of W&M (01424); Revolving Account rather that a set budget
  • Celebrations [Memorial Day events] (01692); $2,500 (+8.0%)
  • Rail Trail (01660) $5,000 (0% change)

Holliston Trails Committee Chair Robert Weidknecht spoke about how the committee uses its annual Town allotment.  He pointed to the many projects completed along the 6.7- mile linear park thanks to the cooperation and efforts of the Holliston Highway Department led by DPW Deputy Director Robert Walker.  Wiedknecht and the Board discussed the transition of Rail Trail maintenance from the current group of aging volunteers to Town staff over the coming years.  The Board thanked Mr. Weidknecht and the volunteers for the efforts (1,000 volunteer hours of work) during 2022.

Mr. Ahern shared that the projected revenue model being used to set the FY 24 budget has not changed.

The Board authorized the submission of these budgets as presented.

Warrants: The Board unanimously approved the weekly warrants totaling -> $1,890,525.65

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Read Public Comment request from Liz Theiler for an EMS staffing report for the week of Christmas.  The report has been sent to Ms. Theiler.
    • The Upper Charles Climate Action (UCCA) has requested to be on a future agenda of the Select Board.
    • Attending the Lions presentation of the “Heart of a Lion” award on Jan. 18, 2023.
    • Attended the recent School Budget Subcommittee meeting. The Schools are preparing to do a facilities assessment in advance of submitting another Statement of Interest (SOI) to the  MA School Building Authority for the Holliston High School.
  • Mr. Cronin (and Mr. Sparrell):
    • US Representative Jim McGovern visited Holliston last week and met with Town leaders / staff.  The meeting was part of Mr. McGovern’s tour of municipalities in his newly redrawn congressional district. One heads up – there is the POSSIBILITY that unused ARPA funds may become a bargaining chip when the nation’s debt ceiling debate takes place.  Holliston and the State are wise to commit (contract) ARPA funds sooner than later.  Mr. McGovern even provided the Town with is cell phone number!
  • Public: None

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • Ambulance Service License – extension through Dec. 31, 2023

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy was invited to speak about HFD’s full-year unconditional BLS Ambulance Service license.  The 2023 license was awarded on December 29, 2022 following two successful inspections and ensured the Town was fully licensed without interruption entering 2023.  Cassidy and the Board spoke about this important step on the journey to gaining Advanced Life Support (ALS) certification for Holliston’s EMS.  The Board thanked Chief Cassidy for his leadership and sharing this very important news.

  • The Board supported the placement in Town Hall of “Heart of a Lion Community Service Award” and “Humanitarian Award” plaques.
  • Envisioning Future Holliston is meeting Wednesday, Jan 18 to select a consultant to lead the effort of assembling a town-wide strategic plan using all available survey data and existing department strategic plans.
  • Mr. Ahern and ATA Kathleen Buckley will be attending the HPS Equity Audit Focus Group meeting.

Board Business: The Board took the following actions:

  • Accepted a $45,000 donation from Celebrate Holliston for Blair Square Reconstruction Project

Representatives from Celebrate Holliston (left to right) Peter Barbieri, Lisa Deering, and Theresa Lamkin took the opportunity to update the Board on preliminary plans for Holliston’s 300th celebration.  At this time, the goal is to have significant events throughout the year with a theme of “free, family-oriented fun.”  Mr. Barbieri has marked Saturday May 18, 2024, for the Tricentennial Parade.  The annual Celebrate Holliston parade / field day will be held in September of that year.  The Celebrate Holliston core group will maintain a centralized calendar of events for the year and is seeking individuals / groups that have ideas / plans for events to sign up at ->

In addition, Theresa Lamkin posted the following on the Holliston Happy Facebook page announcing an open information meeting – (this is an in-person meeting).

“December 3, 2024 will mark the 300th anniversary of Holliston incorporating as a town!

It is time for us all to come together and create a year of celebration to honor our town’s past, present, and future!

Celebrate Holliston will be doing a series of cornerstone events but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The hope is that groups, organizations, committees, businesses, non-profits and even neighborhoods in town will also plan events around the 300th theme.

How will all that work? Come find out!!

We are hosting a 300th informational night at the Senior Center on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at 7:00PMCome learn how you (or the group you represent) can be part of the celebration.”

  • Approved the minutes of November 28, 2022, and December 5, 2022, meetings.
  • Signed the approval of the road taking for Indian Ridge Road South, (approved at a previous Town Meeting).  This vote authorized the Town Administrator to execute an Order of Taking (Town Counsel drafted) and file the Order with the Registry of Deeds.

Other Business:  None

The meeting adjourned at 8:32pm. 

Chris Cain


  1. Steve Bradford on January 20, 2023 at 8:10 am

    Having the Tri-Centennial Parade 9 days before the Memorial Day Parade is a good idea why?

    • Travis Ahern (Town Administrator) on January 22, 2023 at 11:36 am

      Commander Bradford, please note that Celebrate Holliston was sharing preliminary thoughts that are still in development and they are looking for community feedback on planned and/or potential events. There is a link within the article to connect with Celebrate Holliston, they have a Facebook page, and they also have a community session scheduled in February for further direct feedback and idea sharing. Hope this helps!


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