By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Selectboard spent some time going over the annual Town Meeting articles at its meeting on Monday, 3/27, making its recommendations to TM. The board will discuss the FY18 Operating Budget in detail at its 4/3 meeting.
The board approved the Capital Improvement Plan, which they have discussed at previous meetings, except for the proposed public safety marina at Union Wharf. Board members said they needed more information and the Economic Development Committee had not voted on it yet.
The proposal will be on the town meeting warrant in May. The Selectboard has one two more chances to make its recommendation when it meets again on 4/3 and 4/10. Then the warrant will have to go to the printer.
Town Meeting will face 58 articles on the warrant on May 6, although at least 12 will be passed over, meaning they will not be discussed or voted on.
Spending articles include $351,100 in Community Preservation Fund spending (articles 6 & 31). Projects include $170,000 for two land protection projects, $150,000 for Indian Rock Farms with the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and $20,000 requested by the Board of Public Works for the Branch Brook Land protection project.
The Stratford Capital Group’s request for $325,000 for the Oxford School building got knocked down to $50,000 in CPC funds; the Library Exterior Restoration Project is slated to get $160,000; Town Hall, $12,000; Oxford Terrace, $45,000 for a new automatic door. And the Historical Commission is in line to get $119,000 for the Academy Building, to build a new rear access door that will be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and to rebuild the front entrance
CPC Funds will also be used for a Town Hall Restoration Study, which will be more in depth than the town facilities study, that is also on the warrant. The Wellness Committee is slated to get $10,000 for an outdoor fitness station; and the Fairhaven Tennis Association will get $17,500 to restore the tennis courts at Cushman Park.
Appropriations to the sewer department from the enterprise fund for a variety of infrastructure spending to buildings, equipment and pumps/pipes total $11.8 million (article 14).
Selectboard member Daniel Freitas voted to recommend passage at TM, along with his fellow board members, but he asked Town Administrator Mark Rees to clarify if the 24″ sewer line replacement to Mattapoisett along the bike path would include a heftier asphalt replacement. The Board of Public Works is asking for equipment to start plowing the bike path and Mr. Freitas, a former BPW member, has pointed out that the bike path has two-inch asphalt, not four-inch. If heavy equipment is going to be used on it, then the re-paving should be able to accommodate it.
The board voted to support an article that would allow the school department and town hall offices to consolidate some administrative functions. The plan is to combine Information Technology services (article 16).
Article 17 will rescind the Recreation Department’s enterprise fund because the new budget makes the Rec Department a regular town department, which will be funded from the general fund, instead of an enterprise fund. Dues and other money collected will go to the general fund.
Article 23 requests $231,250 for a 25% match for a federal grant to buy a new ladder truck. If the grant is not approved, he article will be pulled, and the board will ask town meeting to fun J of Article 24, which asks for $925,000 for a new fire truck. Mr. Rees said the town has applied for the grant for several years, but cannot wait any longer to replace the truck.
Article 24 funds the capital plan, which includes IV pumps for the ambulance ($21,000), a new ambulance ($260,000), new police radio communication system ($250,00), two new patrol vehicles ($80,000), town hall snow guards ($60,000), new catch basin truck for the BPW ($160,000 matching funds with $165,000 from Chapter 90 money), $230,000 for window replacement at the high school, a new mower for parks department ($65,000).
Article 25 funds road work at $320,000, with the street fight over which ones to fund no doubt being held at TM. The Selectboard recommended the first four only: Brown, Diamond, Hopkins, and Rockland streets.
Article 29 will authorize use of water enterprise money to replace roofs at pump stations ($150,000) and replace the Tinkham Lane well $550,000)
Article 30 asks for $73,000 in sewer enterprise money for a truck. The board held off on voting for that one after Mr. Freitas said he wanted to know what kind of truck it was. He said $73,000 was a lot of money for a truck, unless it was a specialty vehicle. The same article would appropriate $50,00 for the federal discharge permit.
Other articles include $17,5000 for prorogation of shellfish (#35); the authorization of various revolving accounts; maintenance for the Rogers and Oxford school buildings ($8,000); $2,500 to the Fairhaven Cultural Council.
Article 38 will authorize matching funds for the town’s portion of 20–30% of a grant for the harbor master plan with New Bedford. If awarded the grant, which could be up to $200,000, the matching portion would be paid by New Bedford and Fairhaven, with the city picking up 70% and the town paying 30%.
Article 40 would establish a separate reserve fund for unanticipated costs related to special education. Article 41 would authorize putting up to $386,453 into the fund. The new fund does not replace the circuit breaker account, but supplements it, paying for costs not covered by the circuit breaker, and allowing the school department to better plan expenses, according to Mr. Rees.
Article 43 authorizes up to $20,000 for a study to explore regionalization possibilities between the Fairhaven and Acushnet school departments.
Article 46 would establish a special fund for the demolition of abandoned or other unsafe buildings in town. In most cases, the town would place a lien on the property and get the money back. The establishment of the fund allows the town to have money readily available for demolition, and provides a place for reimbursement money to go, without having to go to town meeting or the Finance Committee to use the funds.
The warrant is available on the town’s website at: http://www. fairhaven-ma.gov/Pages/ FairhavenMA_TownClerk/05-06-2017%20ATM%20Warrant
In a matter not on the agenda, the board allowed resident John Pond to speak, advocating for a bigger push for economic development. Mr. Pond said that some of the empty commercial buildings in town could be used for manufacturers. He said the burden on residential taxpayers is too heavy.
Mr. Pond also told the board and Town Administrator Mark Rees, in particular, that they get paid, and should go out and do their jobs.
Mr. Rees should “go out and do something for it,” said Mr. Pond, meaning Mr. Rees’s big paycheck.
For his part, Mr. Rees, carefully avoiding any “deliberating,” since the matter was not on the agenda, said that the town had made a lot of progress in bringing some businesses to town and filling the empty storefronts.
“Obviously, I agree with Mr. Pond that economic development is good for the town,” said Mr. Rees.
Selectboard member Bob Espindola also noted that Fairhaven High School and Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School are both providing quality education for students who want to go to college and those who want to careers in the trades.
The Board also met with NB Voc-Tech superintendent James O’Brien, who presented the town with the gift of a framed photograph of the Palmer Island Lighthouse, created by students in the visual arts program.
The photo shows the lighthouse in the foreground, with Fairhaven behind it, and a fishing boat approaching from the north.
Mr. O’Brien said the project also included New Bedford and Dartmouth, and was very popular with parents and other members of the school community.
“It took on a life of its own,” said Mr. O’Brien.
The board also authorized a change order for the Union Wharf project for $22,638.75. The electrical work will separate the meters so each boat will get a separate bill.
Town Planner Bill Roth noted that it was “ironic that a $2.3 million project is being held up by $22,000 problem.”
Selectboard votes on town meeting articlesClick here to download the entire 3/30/17 issue: 03-30-17 Run2Remem