Select Board Recap 06/17/2024

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In attendance: Chair Tina Hein, Vice Chair Ben Sparrell, Clerk Damon Dimmick, Town Administrator Travis Ahern

Board of Assessors (BOA) Appointment of Seat thru May 2025 Election (Joint Appointment Process with BOA)

The Town Election resulted in a three way tie on the Board of Assessors. The Chair and the Vice Chair of the Board joined the SB at the table.  Amy Gow was introduced.

Per TA Ahern: The write-in Election in May resulted in a three-way tie. This seat will be filled until the next election, May of 2025.

Motion made by Clerk Dimmick to appoint Amy Gow to the BOA for a term to expire in May 2025. Approved by 3 on SB and 2 on BOA. Motion passed.

Discussion of Special Town Meeting on June 20, 2024

TA Ahern advised he had a walk through today with the chair of the finance committee, school committee, moderator, and others.

All special town meeting information can be found by following this link. TA Ahern did a walkthrough of the information.

Chair Hein indicated that because we only have one major item on the warrant, the item will be introduced by the School Committee either by the Chair or another member of the SC. The second item (the smaller addition) will be presented by Chair Hein.

TA Ahern advised the Power Point has been sent to all SB members and they should reach out to him in the event they wish to have any modifications made.

The library will be used for non-voting residents who attend the Town Meeting if capacity (915) is reached. Town Clerk will open registration at 6pm to ensure people get registered efficiently.

If capacity is reached, there is a backup plan.

TA Ahern discussed priority parking, and childcare accommodations. Senior Parking passes will be available at the Senior Center.

SC Chair Alfred stated there were seven to eight students available for daycare at the Town Meeting in the Auditorium.

TA Ahern mentioned that because of the heat wave the AC will be operational on the night of Town Meeting.

Chair Hein mentioned that the 300th Book will also be available for sale at the Town Meeting in the front lobby (Mary Greendale will be on hand).

TA Ahern brought up the information for a potential ballot date reminding the SB of the two dates which were proposed at the last meeting namely August 13 and September 10. For legal reasons a definitive date should not be set (e.g. a ballot date cannot be cancelled without a court order).

TA Ahern reminded people that the ballot is required for the override, the Town Meeting is merely to appropriate the funds from the override. The ballot will continue regardless of the outcome of Town Meeting simply because the MOA is contingent upon the override’s passage.

TA Ahern stressed that during presentations at Town Meeting it would be helpful to be able to advise attendees when the ballot could be expected.

VC Sparrell indicated he had met with the Town Clerk regarding the date since he was not comfortable setting a date without having that discussion. The general consensus is there are two “bad” options, because both will result in some room for confusion because of mail in ballots being issued so close together (Primary Election is 9/3). While the Town Clerk has indicated she will do everything possible to ensure less confusion, there is still some room for error. It is also worth noting that neither date would eliminate this problem, nor would either date allow for early in person voting for the override ballot.

Chair Hein indicated the SB is not prepared to vote on a hard date for the election for various reasons but is comfortable announcing the intention to have the ballot for a September 10th vote.

Motion made by Clerk Dimmick that should the SB choose to have a ballot on the override that the date be set for September 10th. Second by VC Sparrell, passed.

Chair Hein also pointed out the funding source for this special election has yet to be determined.

TA Ahern pointed out that in his communication with the SC that they would be prepared to cover the cost associated with the special election.

SC Chair Alfred joined the SB at the table. He expressed concern about the SB not finalizing the date of the ballot election to ensure there was no confusion regarding when this would occur — reminder that the ballot question is irrelevant to the outcome of the Town Meeting — Town meeting is merely an appropriations process while the ballot question must be brought regardless of that outcome per the MOA with the Teacher’s Union.

Expressed concern that the SB would not immediately designate 9/10 as the definite ballot date. After some discussion it was agreed that there would be clarity at the Special Town Meeting indicating this as the chosen date and that barring complications this would be the date of the ballot.

Also requested that the SB approve the use of the blackboard for advertising special Town Meeting which they agreed to do despite anticipating blowback.

Review of Town Manager Act Language Following Indefinite Postponement at Annual Town Meeting (May 2024)

After the postponement the SB has received several inquiries as to when this may come up at Town Meeting again. The SB indicated they remain in favor of the TM Act and do intend to bring it back in October, timing pending.

There is/was some concern about powers which Boards feel they would lose by accepting this act — some are granted powers while others remain assumed powers.

There was a great deal of discussion about the Act itself and there was also an indication that many people seem to have a misunderstanding about the Act.

More public conversations regarding what the objections are and what it is they do not understand about the act (this means the public as well as stakeholders) which could bring a better understanding of why this is important to Holliston and why it should be accepted.

VC Sparrell expressed his concern that this Act was being referred to as “Town Manager Light” and wanted an explanation as to what that actually meant.

TA Ahern explained that the TM Act language agreed to by the SB did not have a lot of features of most Town Managers (e.g. hiring, budgeting, etc.) which is why it was seen that way.

It was agreed that stakeholders should be heard (e.g. Town Boards) to ensure their understanding of the TM act and to address any of their concerns. However, this should be done after a review of the Act itself, particularly if we’re going to bring it back in October.

TA Ahern agreed to speak further with Massachusetts Municipal Management Association (MMMA) to provide a review of the Act. They would receive a summary of comments which have been received as well as the SB input as to what their intention was in bringing forward the act.

Once this step is accomplished, outreach to the appropriate Boards and Committees will be done to try to get everyone on the same page with the intent of bringing this issue up at the October Town Meeting.

A reminder that the warrant for the October meeting will occur in late August to mid-September given that Town Meeting will be nearly a full week later than last year.

Public Comment

Clerk Dimmick: Holliston 300 book is on display in the SB office.

Weekly Warrant

Clerk Dimmick made a motion to approve the weekly warrant, 2nd by VC Sparrell; passed.

Comments from the Town Administrator

These were encapsulated in a separate post due to the nature of the comments. You can read the entire piece by following this link.

Board Business

Annual Appointment of Michael Perkins, Deputy Wiring Inspector

Motion made by Clerk Dimmick, 2nd by VC Sparrell, motion passed.

Chair Hein will be unavailable next week, VC Sparrell will take over in her absence.

Doreen Martel

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