The Winthrop Town Council met on May 4, where it held a vote on implementing a trash fee for homeowners. Around 20 members of the public attended.
Council Pres. Phil Boncore opened the meeting with a moment of silence for Claire Sheltry, a former Winthrop Town Clerk, who passed away on April 21, and for Kim Lescay, an employee of the Winthrop Library.
The Council voted 7-2 to approve a $160 annual trash fee for households, beginning in FY22. This fee is meant to offset the cost of the Town’s new trash contract, which increased by 40 percent from $1.2 million to $1.7 million. Bills will go out in late summer.
The Council’s Finance Committee has met numerous times and consulted with the public on how best to bridge the gap, ultimately deciding that a trash fee was the most realistic solution. Other options included making townwide budget cuts or taking money out of the Town’s stabilization fund.
The Zero Waste Committee is organizing an educational campaign designed to teach residents how to reduce their household waste.
There may be remedies available for those experiencing financial hardship.
“With the pandemic and the water bills through the roof, everyone is hurting right now,” said Councilor Rob DeMarco.
Councilors Rich Ferrino and Nick LoConte voted against the trash fee.
IT Advisory Committee
Pres. Boncore is resurrecting the Council’s Information Technology (IT) Advisory Committee, to which he appointed Craig Mael chairman. Mael has advocated for a committee to help strengthen the town’s IT infrastructure, explore funding options, and develop a five-year plan.
“Over last year we’ve learned the value of IT and how it’s going to affect us in the future,” he said.
Winthrop has had 2,270 positive COVID cases, with 35 deceased and 12 in isolation. To date, 10,246 Winthrop residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, or almost 54 percent of residents over the age of 18. All members of the public age 16 and older are currently eligible, and Health Director Meredith Hurley anticipates that adolescents age 12 to 15 will soon be eligible.
The new Metro North COVID-19 Vaccination Partnership will be setting up three locations to treat residents of nine communities, including Winthrop. These will be located at Encore Boston in Everett, Tufts University in Medford, and the Cambridge Health Alliance. It hopes to boost vaccine capacity from 750 per day to 5,000 per day. Appointments can be made at home.color.com/vaccine/register/metronorth.
The North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative has awarded a grant to the town to help strengthen its health resources.
Since students went back to school on April 5, there has been no in-school spread of the virus. Pres. Boncore reported that “classes are going well and school mitigation protocols are working excellent.” All teachers have returned to their classrooms, except for one. Spring athletics commenced on April 26. A senior prom will be held at the Hyatt on June 1, followed by a graduation at Miller Field on June 4. Summer programming will be available for K-8 students in math, English and ESL.
School Supt. Lisa Howard has requested that polling places remain as they were in the last election, so as not to interrupt students’ learning over the coming year.
“Keep up the good work and let’s have zero people getting infected every day,” said Pres. Boncore.
Pres. Boncore issued a citation on behalf of the entire council to retiring Harbormaster Lawrence Powers, calling him a “good friend who has worked very hard in Winthrop for many, many years.” Interim Town Manager Delehanty also extended his congratulations.
Work continues in the Center Business District with a focus on drainage, followed by surface work. Completion is scheduled for the end of 2021.
The Parks and Recreation Dept. will be offering programs this summer and all residents are encouraged to participate.
The Winthrop Police Dept. will be offering a summer police academy.
The Town will be securing funds through the Violence Against Women Act to hire a domestic violence social worker.
There are immediate openings on the Airport Hazards Committee, the Board of Appeals, the Planning Board, the Transportation Safety Advisory Committee, the Conservation Commission, and the IT Advisory Committee.