SELECTMEN’S MEETING

JANUARY 29, 2007

 

Chairman Perkins called the meeting to order at 7:02 PM.

 

Selectman Bond, Selectwoman Brunelle, Selectman Andrews, and Selectman Spataro were present.

 

 

SELECTMEN’S MINUTES

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectman Spataro, the Board

            VOTED:  To approve the Executive Minutes of January 8, 2007.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  To approve the Minutes of January 22, 2007.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  To approve the Executive Minutes of January 22, 2007.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

HEARINGS, MEETINGS & LICENSES

 

Informational Hearing – Override

 

Chairman Perkins explained that this hearing was to discuss the possibility of placing an override question on the ballot for the April town election.  The hearing was opened.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle, Chairman of the Collaborative Leadership Group (CLG), made a presentation.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle explained that the CLG tried to get a head start on gathering budget figures.  She said it was still later than she had anticipated.  All departments were asked to submit the anticipated FY08 budget.  She explained that some of these figures have been estimated because of lack of information.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the preliminary requests show an increase to the General Government budget of $508,204, $1,300,635 for the School Department, and $478,270 for Transportation, totaling $2.2 million.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle explained that the final numbers for the debt service were not available.  She also said that the Life and Health Insurance costs will probably increase 15%.  These have also not been included. 

 

Also in the packet were explanations for the requested increases.  The General Government’s increases consist mostly of restoration of personnel or personnel hours that have been lost over the past several years due to budget cuts.  The School Department’s increases are mostly for additional personnel.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the next part of the process is a revenue estimate based on the prior year’s levy limit, a 2 ½% increase, new growth, debt exclusion, and State aid.  She said she used a 5% increase over the State aid of last year.  She said this may, or may not, happen and will be adjusted depending on the final figures from the State.  She said this probably won’t be available until May.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said, based on historical information, Local Receipts are estimated at $7 million, which may, or may not, happen.  Also included are Indirect Costs, in lieu of tax payments from the G&E, and the COA Trust Fund.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said that revenue is showing as $58.8 million.  The expenditures are $63.1 million.  This is a shortage of about $4.3 million, without to health insurance, life insurance, and retirement increases.  She noted that last year’s increase of $412,000 was funded at the Fall Town Meeting.  She also said the BP Assessment is not known at this time.

 

The next part of the Selectwoman Brunelle’s presentation showed historical levy limit information, and anticipated step increases.

 

The Net School Spending requirements from 1998 to 2007 were also shown.  Selectwoman Brunelle noted that the Town has contributed “over and above” many times, which takes the most of the 2 ½% increase and New Growth.  She said it is obvious that the education system is a priority for the town.

 

Historical information regarding the average single family home tax bills were also shown for informational purposes.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said, going forward, to maintain services in General Government, adding personnel that has been lost over the past years, and to move forward in the education system, there needs to be a way to come up with more money, not through the regular revenue sources.  She said the town is facing an override.  If there is no additional money, there will be significant impacts. 

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the School is asking for an additional $1.3 million to add to services which includes going forward with the “No Child Left Behind Program”, and guidance resources.  Without additional money, the School Department cannot move forward.  She also anticipated cutting back on supplementing the School Department budget over and above the Net School Spending requirement.

 

The impacts on the General Government side will also be significant.  Substations will not be staffed, and the Police Department will not be staffed to the requested level.   She noted that there are currently no civilian dispatchers at the Police Department.  Non-threatening calls will have to be answered on an as-needed basis.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle noted that these situations also impact residents in determining what insurance rates might be.  The Library may lose its accreditation through the State, and there may be fewer services at the COA or Park Department.  She said it is up to the Board as to whether or not to put a question on the ballot.  It could be in the form of a menu, lump sum, or debt exclusion.

 

Kevin Cook, East Main Street, said Selectwoman Brunelle painted a bleak picture, but noted that those things aren’t going on now, and the safety and educational needs are being met.  He said 75% of communities have rejected overrides.  He said the citizens have no extra money.  He suggested employees should be asked to pick up a larger share of health insurance.  He said the money that is needed must be found within the town.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said she appreciated Mr. Cook’s comments.  She said the figures presented tonight are preliminary.  She said health insurance co-pays are negotiable with unions.  She said without an override there will be massive layoffs and services curtailed.  She said an amount for an override is not being established tonight, but just a determination of whether or not to put the question on the April ballot.

 

Mr. Cook said if you level fund, some requests have to be denied.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said there will be a significant shortage even if budgets are level funded.  There will still be cuts in services.  She also noted tonight’s figures don’t include non-finalized contracts.

 

Chairman Perkins noted that this is an open hearing, not a debate.  He said he would need to limit the length of discussion.  He noted that State law doesn’t allow the health co-pays to be negotiated with individual unions.  The G&E and School Department unions would also have to comply.  He said this would be an issue “on the table” as negotiations begin.

 

Selectman Bond noted that an override would only provide funds to specific departments for the first year.  After that it goes to the general fund and becomes part of the levy limit.

 

Selectman Andrews said a majority vote of the Board is required to place a question on the ballot.  If it passes, it becomes permanent and can only be eliminated through an “underride”.  He noted the $4.3 million shortfall would probably be more like $5.8 with the increases to the health and life insurances and other debt services.  He also explained that the School Department has already negotiated contracts for the next 3 years.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle noted that the “average” tax bill does not cover the cost of sending one child to school.

 

Jane Lopes asked why there would be an increase with level funding.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle explained that a lot of last year’s budgets were supplemented from Free Cash and increased estimated local receipts. 

 

Mr. Healey said the Town is going to have to come up with additional revenues to increase estimated local receipts.  Cuts will also have to be made.  The possibility of an override question needs to be considered.

 

Mr. Healey said the town has been in a “budget cutting mode” for 16 years.  He said this year will be much more difficult unless people “dig deeper”.  He said this could not come at a worst time, noting that values on property have increased significantly.  He said people should be given choices on what they want to fund.

 

Mr. Healey said it is a little early to say what the ultimate number would be because the State figure is not known.  He said right now the revenue/expenditure analysis shows a deficit somewhere near $5 million.

 

Joe Thomas, 61 Summer Street, said 6300 homes would be asked to fund a $4 million deficit.  He said people cannot afford this and the Board should not put the question on the ballot.  He said the Board needs to take a “hard line” and do without services.

 

Superintendent Sullivan thanked Selectwoman Brunelle for her presentation.  He said he has been a resident of the town for 30 years and had 3 daughters go through the public school system.  He said he fully supports a successful 2 ½ proposition override to meet the needs of the entire town.  However, he said there are three (3) reasons for not putting an override question on the April 2007 election ballot:

 

1.                  It is too late.  He said he thought an amount would’ve been established and brought forward by tonight.  He said creating an amount now doesn’t’ demonstrate full fiscal management and accountability.  It could “pit one department against another”.  He said it is easy to convince voters to say “no” because of the emotions associated with an override.  He said presenting a truthful, accurate, and rationale justification, takes time.

 

2.                  Leaders need to be in the forefront of any attempt for an override.  He said the Board’s leadership is necessary to mount a successful campaign.  He said the Board must voice its support for an override.  He said the Board needs to ask 2 questions – Does our Town need an override, and do you support it.  If leaders aren’t willing to support or take a position, then it would be reasonable for voters to believe it is not necessary.

 

3.                  Dr. Sullivan said he has worked hard over the last 2 years as a “compromiser” for recommendations from the School Committee.  He said if an override isn’t passed, then the deficit must be directed toward parents.  He said he must still organize and make a case for education for our town, but within the frame work of town government, through the Town Meeting process.  He said there is 130 days to prepare for a June Town Meeting.  He said parents will be ready to stand up at Town Meeting.  He said the opportunity for a properly worded override has been lost.  He said parents need to be strongly considered as you prepare for Town Meeting.  

 

Selectman Bond said he has always compared an override with asking investors for more money.  He said providing the best public education and safety, improves values.  He said the problem with an override is that is has a long lasting impact.  It will raise the tax base.  He said there needs to be a plan of action regarding spending and revenue generation.  There needs to be a 5 year financial plan as to how the investment will grow to improve values, tourism, and avoid a future override.  He said he personally would not support an override until there is a plan of action.  He said programs need to be funded to develop more revenues.  He said if the Board believes there should be an override, it should put the question on.  If it doesn’t, it should stick to its convictions.  It should not just place a question to see if the voters approve.  He agreed that the opportunity has passed.  There is no plan or education.  More work must be done to convince residents.

 

Selectman Andrews asked how this coincided with Selectman Bond’s previous statement that the Town “deserves a good library”.

 

Selectman Bond said he is more than willing to spend the money if an explanation can be given as to what benefit the override will make.  For general government, services will be restored.  He said he wanted to see programs come out of the override to provide a rationale for paying more.

 

Selectman Andrews said the Board needs to know how much money is needed to put it forth before the voters.  He asked how this information could be obtained 6 months prior.

 

Mr. Healey said there is no opportunity for that.  It would be a sheer estimate with no basis in fact.  He said the town operates on an annual budget that has not been taken in yet.  He said most people think that the money is “stashed away”.  Receipts are estimated based on the past year.  If it is not met, it is a shortfall in the next year.  Taxes in the current year pay current years’ bills.  He said there is no idea how much revenue will be generated.  If the estimated amount is higher, it turns into Free Cash and is used to balance the budget in the Fall.

 

Mr. Healey noted that the $2 billion surplus from the Romney-Healey administration has disappeared with another $1 billion shortfall.  He said the town will not receive significant help from the State.  He said there are no other revenue generators that the town is allowed to have.  There is no plan to generate programs that cost money and pay with revenues that don’t currently exist. There is no authority to do that.  He said saying it’s too late to present an override question is just an excuse for not giving people choices.  He said people will lose jobs and Middleboro will not be the attractive community that people want to move to.  He said there is no other bailout coming.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said part of the request of departments was to provide the previous 5 years budgets and 5 year plan going forward.  The School provided a 3 year plan.  He said everyone would like a plan going forward to increase revenues as Selectman Bond suggested.  The town has struggled for the past 15 years and been “reactive”.  An override will be a hardship on everybody, but it is a personal decision.

 

Mr. Healey said the DOR has a program that can be used for a 5 year plan.  The problem is that you don’t know if the numbers you use will be real.  He said “stuffing” Town Meeting will vote more money than we have and will result in another Town Meeting to balance the budget.  He urged all the people that Dr. Sullivan had urged to stand up at Town Meeting to participate in decision makings for cuts.

 

Selectman Bond noted that Chairman Perkins has tried to increase revenues for the town through the Ed Alliance.  This will increase commerce.  He said there needs to be economic development plans.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle asked what those plans were and how Selectman Bond proposed to pay for them.

 

Selectman Bond said an override could be used to put together programs to do these things.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the town is looking for an override to get through this year.  Department Heads are understaffed and have no time to develop plans to increase revenues.  She asked Selectman Bond what plans he wanted to see and how to fund them.

 

Selectman Bond said people need to be educated as to what the plans and programs are.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle asked to “put the plans on the table” to talk about them.

 

Sara Jigerjian presented the Board with a newspaper article from 1999 showing how people could not afford to pay bills.  She said it is worse now.  She noted that the B&I Commission voted not to support an override.

 

George Simmons said the Town is not analogous to a business.  He said it is an “enormous consumer of goods and services” that rises by more than 2 ½% each year.  He said there is no profit and people shouldn’t think that way.  He said the Town won’t get a salary increase.  He said one way to increase the “salary” is to tax ourselves to meet collective obligations.  He agreed that the Board has waited to long to make an effective case for an override. 

 

Nancy Thomas, FinCom, applauded Dr. Sullivan for being a team player for the past 2 years.  He has also been a consistent voice for the Board to make a decision in time to present a thoughtful case for an override.  She agreed that the Board has waited too long and an override would not pass without the Board’s support.

 

Selectman Spataro asked if talks about an override would be more intense if it was 12 months away instead of 2 months.  He did not believe so.  He did not agree that putting the question on the ballot and not sharing voting perspectives is a hindrance to the process. 

 

Hearing no further comments, Chairman Perkins closed the hearing.

 

Selectman Andrews said he was not in favor of an override.  He said concessions by the School employees on health insurance is not forthcoming.  He said he has only received negative comments regarding an override.

 

Chairman Perkins said the Board has the responsibility to let the people “pick and choose”. He said they have to decide what level of services to fund. 

 

Selectman Bond said the Board’s responsibility is also to education people. 

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the possibility of an override has been discussed for the past year and previous years.  She said the town can’t sustain the level of services that it currently has.  There are choices.  The amount will be determined.  She said a Debt Exclusion would be for a shorter term for the life of the project.  Once the figures are finalized, the amount for an override will be known and can be adjusted depending on discussions with department heads over the next couple weeks.

 

Selectman Bond noted that the School Superintendent has suggested not having an override.

 

Selectman Spataro said there is no way to cut $5 million.  By putting the question on the ballot, the Board is acknowledging the need.

 

Betty Murphy, 83 School Street, asked how the Board could go forward for an override without knowing the figure.

 

Chairman Perkins said he hoped the figure would be known by next week.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Spataro and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

            VOTED:  To place an override question on the April election ballot.

            VOTE 3 – 2 (Selectman Bond and Selectman Andrews opposed)

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said she wanted to give special recognition to all other members of the CLG.

 

Meeting with Tim Higgins – RE:  Edgewood Development

 

Tim Higgins, Vice President of Development for Edgewood Development Company, was present.

 

Mr. Higgins said he is asking for assistance for a non-residential project which consists of 147 acres off of Rte. 28 near the Rochester line.  He presented a plan showing the proposed area. 

 

Mr. Higgins explained that the Massachusetts Highway Department has stated that the project could not use State owned land to manage the stormwater resulting from the new road if the new subdivision road were to remain privately owned.  Consequently, Mr. Higgins asked that the Board reconsider its policy to accept 133’ of roadway entering the project.  A permanent agreement would be entered into agreeing that Edgewood would maintain the portion.

 

Chairman Perkins said he was very familiar with the area and is in favor of the request.

 

Mr. Healey also recommended support.  If approved, he would work with Town Counsel and the developer to draft an agreement to bring to Town Meeting.

 

Selectman Spataro asked what acreage of the project was in Rochester.

 

Mr. Higgins said the entire project is in Middleboro.

 

Selectman Spataro noted that this is the town’s zoned “adult entertainment district”.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectman Spataro, the Board

            VOTED:  To accept Edgewood’s proposal to support a petition to accept 150 feet       (+-) of the 2,650 foot subdivision road which leaves Route 28, and crosses the           Bay Colony Railroad Company railroad tracks to provide access to 10 non-         residential lots, subject to receiving a proper set of plans to refer to at next week’s         meeting.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Mr. Healey noted a related agreement regarding the water main.  The Board had approved this in September.  He presented the Board with a draft agreement and asked for comments.

 

Selectman Andrews had concerns with some of the wording regarding the possible extension of the water service into Rochester.

 

Mr. Healey said he would address this.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectman Spataro, the Board

            VOTED:  To accept the proposed water main agreement as presented in the Town       Manager’s Report dated January 24, 2007 and reviewed by Town Counsel,        subject to tonight’s amendment and any major outstanding issues that Town         Counsel may encounter.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

 

Mr. Healey said he would attend the February 18th Planning Board meeting concerning this project.

 

NEW BUSINESS

 

Request for Permission to Erect Sign – Massachusetts Motorcycle Association

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

            VOTED:  To grant authorization for the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association to         erect a 2’x8’ framed yellow/black plastic “Check Twice” sign the last week in           March through the last week of April, 2007, subject to working with public safety         people to decide an appropriate place to put it.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

OLD BUSINESS

 

12 Highland Street (waiting for decision)

 

 

Downtown Parking

 

 

Lakeville IMA

 

Mr. Healey said he should have a draft to Town Counsel tomorrow.

 

Selectman Bond said he had reviewed the System Development Charges in Hanson and noted a huge difference from Middleboro’s charges.

 

TOWN MANAGER’S REPORT

 

Surplus Property

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Spataro, the Board

            VOTED:  To approve the amended list of surplus property for auction as           presented in the Town Manager’s Report.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

SELECTMEN’S BILLS

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

            VOTED:  To pay the bill submitted by Verizon in the amount of $26.04.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

 

OTHER

 

There was no ‘Other’ Business discussed tonight.

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

v     Correspondence from the Police Chief concerning Vine Street will be sent to residents who expressed concerns at last week’s meeting.

 

v     A Job Posting for the Health Department will be forwarded to the IT Department to post on the Town’s website.

 

v     Correspondence regarding cable will be forwarded to the Permanent Cable Committee.

 

Mr. Healey noted that progress is being made with negotiations with Verizon.

 

v     Nomination forms for the Commission on the Status of Women’s ‘Unsung Heroine of 2007’ are available at the Selectmen’s Office.  Forms will also be forwarded to the local Mother’s Club.

 

v     Correspondence from Town Counsel concerning Steven Cheromcha’s dog ‘Luke’ was discussed.  Mr. Cheromcha is requesting a reconsideration of the Board’s most recent decision to remove the dog from the town or euthanize it.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

      VOTED:  To meet with Mr. Cheromcha and the Animal Control Officer at next             week’s meeting.

      Unanimous Vote.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

      VOTED:  To ask Town Counsel if it is necessary to ask for a continuance of the            February 9th hearing regarding the Cheromcha’s dog.

      Unanimous Vote.

 

v     Discussion ensued on the FY08 proposed Law Budget.  Selectwoman Brunelle asked the Board’s Secretary to contact Town Counsel to see if he anticipates any additional cases.

 

Discussion ensued on Town Counsel’s budget of $150/hour.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectman Spataro, the Board

      VOTED:  To direct the Board’s Secretary to canvas 10 surrounding communities          to see what they pay for Town Counsel services.

      Unanimous Vote.

 

v     Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  To designate Eileen Gates, Town Clerk, as the Town of         Middleborough’s liaison for the local census to work with the Secretary of the          Commonwealth.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

v     The Board received notice that the ABCC had rejected the request for a license transfer for Centre Ave Café.  The Board’s Secretary will contact ABCC to see if any further action is required by the Board.

 

 

 

Upon motion by Selectman Spataro and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  To enter into Executive Session at 9:46 PM, not to return to Open     Session, to discuss contract negotiations.

            A poll vote was taken.  Selectwoman Brunelle, Selectman Andrews, Selectman             Bond, Selectman Spataro, and Chairman Perkins approved.

            VOTE 5 - 0

 

 

 

 

 

                                                           

Diane Henault, Secretary

BOARD OF SELECTMEN