Town Council Tackles Loss, Hate, Rates

The Winthrop Town Council met remotely for its regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 1, where it confronted a recent loss, voted on hate and received updates on the town’s water and tax rates.

Community Loss

Council President Phil Boncore choked up as he called for a moment of silence for Amy Gallagher, who passed away unexpectedly Nov. 30 at the age of 51. Gallagher, who worked with special education students at the middle school, was a beloved member of the community.

Police Chief Terence Delahanty delivered an emotional tribute to Gallagher, calling her “a good friend, more like a sister.”

“It’s a significant loss for the community,” he said. “There was so much Amy did and she didn’t expect anyone to thank her for it.”

“It’s very unfortunate and a sad day for Winthrop,” said Town Manager Austin Faison. “Amy worked hard for the town. She will be sorely missed.”

DPH Director Meredith Hurley offered a tearful acknowledgement of the loss.

“We are all reeling from the loss of Amy,” she said. “She always made me feel like I’ve been here forever.”

Amy Gallagher, 51, passed away Nov. 30 (Photo Credit: GoFundMe.com)

Pledge Against Hate

Taking a recommendation from the Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations, the Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution based on Councilor Tracey Honan’s Pledge against Hate.

The resolution reads: “Whereas, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal; and Whereas, Winthrop is a resilient and diverse community of people in race, culture, and gender identity and we must continue our work together toward an anti-racist, and anti xenophobic Winthrop. Resolved that the Winthrop Town Council strives to be a body that rejects hate in our community, that recognizes diversity as a source of pride and strength, that recognizes that black lives do matter, that values freedom to worship who we chose, and love who we chose  to love; be it further Resolved that these values should not ever be disparaged; be it further Resolved that all are welcome to live their lives in peace and acceptance within our community, and that we are stronger together.”

“We are committed to making Winthrop a better and more inclusive place,” said the council president.

Water/Sewer Funding

CFO Anna Freedman delivered a lengthy presentation on the town’s water and sewer rates.

The Town Manager’s Office is working with a consultant to realize a study on the rate structure and on factors that could impact Winthrop’s rate, which is higher than other communities. Results from this study will be available during the FY22 budget cycle.

Caller Victor Imparato opposed the current water rates.

“I’ve lived in numerous communities and I’ve never seen water bills this high,” he said. “It’s hurting some of the families out there.”

Imparato asked if there was any financial assistance available to families who couldn’t afford to pay their water bills, and Freedman said she would look into the possibility of a hardship waiver.

The full presentation can be viewed here.

Tax Classification

Council held its annual hearing on the tax rate options for the town. The total taxable value for FY 2020 was $2.7 billion, a 2.2 percent increase over 2021. The Town Council adopted a uniform tax rate for next year, where all property types will be taxed at the same rate. The Deputy Assessor also noted that “New Growth” for 2021 will be $192,450. A more detailed overview of the town’s tax classification is available here.

COVID-19

So far in Winthrop there have been 962 positive cases, with 26 deceased, and 141 in isolation. The town remains in the Yellow Zone despite a Thanksgiving weekend surge.

There were a registered 57 new cases between Nov. 21 and Dec. 1, which could be attributed to people not socially distancing during the holiday weekend.

“Wash your hands, avoid crowds, social distance,” Pres. Boncore pleaded. “We don’t want to have to shut down the town.”

The schools are still on track to reopen on Jan. 4.

“Hopefully we will be ready,” said Boncore.

Citations

The Council recognized the following individuals who were resigning from town committees: Robert Wynn and Barbara Flavin from the Citizens Advisory Committee on Finance; and Gina Cassetta, Linda Cargill, Tino Capobiano and Josephine Fatta from the Winthrop Air Pollution, Noise, and Airport Hazards Committee. Due to the resignations, there are immediate openings on the Citizens Advisory Committee on Finance; the Air Pollution, Noise, and Airport Hazards Committee; as well as the Board of Health.

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