The Town Council met on February 4, when it heard updates from the School Committee and the Town Manager.
-Town Manager’s Report
Town Manager Austin Faison attended the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Annual Meeting & Trade Show where he spoke on a panel concerning climate resiliency. Some town councilors were also in attendance.
“It’s always good to learn what’s happening in the industry,” said Faison. “It’s a great opportunity to network.”
Faison is also working with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) regarding the regionalization of certain town services. He said that joining with other communities to form regional centers can be more effective and more economical than trying to meet all the town’s needs on its own. Specifically, he mentioned combining centers for climate, energy and conservation into a regional office serving several neighboring townships. MAPC is currently drafting language into what this collaboration would look like. Faison also mentioned consolidating emergency dispatch facilities with other towns.
“When there’s a potential to pool resources with other communities, it’s the prudent way forward,” he said. “We can do this better if we start teaming up together.”
-School Committee Report
Council Chair Phil Boncore announced that the Contract Committee of the School Committee had reached an agreement with teachers and that they successfully ratified the contract for the next three years. The contract includes a six-percent raise over the next three years.
“This is a good contract,” he said. “I’m proud of the teachers and the Contract Committee for doing such a great job getting that ratified.”
The Middle School also revealed its new STEM lab, which JetBlue helped to complete by donating materials. Students enthusiastically showcased the projects they had been working on. The Boston Celtics made the event even more magical for the students with a special performance.
“It was great to be there,” said the chairman. “It was an exciting afternoon.”
The council chair also announced that the School Building Assistance Committee and the Miller Field Committee will be meeting in the near future to finish their projects. The superintendent has created a list of all new items needed for the district, such as desks and tables, and the Miller Field Committee is hoping to finish the field by April and to get the ball rolling on its other projects.
Town Councilor Stephen Ruggiero made a resolution to direct the Town Manager to define the boundaries of the middle school site to include the school itself, the Memorial Auditorium, Lawrence Larsen Rink and surrounding areas. Defining the boundaries will allow the Council to make a zoning recommendation to the Planning Board. Town Councilor Richard Ferrino didn’t feel it was necessary.
“They’ve been defined for 50 or 100 years,” he said. “I think it’s a moot motion that we don’t need to discuss.”
The Town Manager said that the last time the town submitted a request for information regarding the site, the boundaries had not been clearly defined.
Under new business, Council Chair Boncore moved a number of items to the Finance Committee. These included the appropriation of $690,000 to pay the cost of replacing lead water service lines, the appropriation of $609,750 to pay the cost of upgrading and replacing sewer lines on Palmyra and Crescent streets, the appropriation of $298,500 to pay the cost of a sewer infiltration and inflow assessment study, and the transfer of $24,316 from the Fund 727 RRAP Rideshare for mitigation and pavement improvements. He referred a proposal to amend Ordinance 5.28.060 on the License and Conditions for Vehicles to the Ordinance Committee. Town Council employee evaluations as well as the adoption of the Committee Handbook were referred to Appointment Commission & Committees.
There are currently open seats on both the School Committee and the Transportation Committee. Interested parties are encouraged to submit a résumé.
The Cohen Family Fundraiser will take place on Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Warrior Ice Arena.