Town Meeting Memories – MaryJo’s Live Blog from 2012

Hi folks, I was reminiscing about the brilliant and herculean job that MaryJo Kurtz did one year by “live blogging” annual Town Meeting.

We were unable to locate the original source article  at Westborough Patch 🙁 However, thanks to our ‘hoarding’ tendencies, we managed to find an excerpt in our own archives. 😀

For those wanting to take a trip down memory lane — and those like me who are still in awe of her achievement  — here’s an excerpt:


Annual Town Meeting

Saturday March 17, 2012

12:53
Welcome to the 2012 Annual Town Meeting live blog.

12:53
I will be live blogging throughout the afternoon. If you have comments, you can add them to the blog.

12:54
If you have questions about what is going on inside the high school auditorium, I will try to answer them. However, I am also trying to listen to the procedings, so bear with me if I don’t get to you right away.

12:59
Town Moderator Joe Harrington has just asked that people begin to find a seat.

1:00
The Advisory Finance Committee, Planning Board, Board of Selectmen are all seated at tables across the front of the auditorium.

1:03
I just met Bill Linnane of the Advisory Finance Committee. He said he enjoys reading Westborough Patch and happy to have the engagement of the community.

1:04
Members of the School Committee have just arrived and are now seated at the front of the auditorium.

1:05
There appears to be several dozen residents in addition to the board members.

1:07
School Superintendent Marianne O’Connor has just arrived. I overheard School Committee member Ilyse Levine-Kanji say she is not feeling well. School Committee member Bruce Tretter just arrived and is taking his seat in the front row.

1:09
I just did a rough count of the public. It appears to be well over 100 voters here so far in addition to the many board members and town officials.

1:13
You can follow the Annual Town Warrant on the town website at town.westborough.ma.us.

1:14
Town Moderator Joe Harrington is calling the meeting to order. This is one of the biggest crowds I have seen at town meeting in several years. There appears to be a couple of hundred people here, at least.

1:16
Board of Selectmen being introduced, along with Town Manager Jim Malloy, Advisory Finance Committee, Planning Board and School Committee and other town officials.

1:17
Women’s Club selling coffee and pastries, Harrington is announcing.

1:18
John Mattson nominated to fill in if the Town Moderator cannot do his duty. He has been voted in as Deputy Moderator. He was just sworn in.

1:19
Harrington is explaining that he has back issues and may need a brief break from time to time.

1:19
Gary Wells is looking for tellers to count votes.

1:22
Nonvoters who will address the crowd are being identified.

1:26
Harrington just identified newcomers and those who have been at Town Meeting for over 50 years. Wow, that’s a lot of Town Meetings. There were several residents in that latter group.

1:27
Scouts from Troop 100, 382 and 4 will be helping with microphones, said Warren Anderson.

1:27
Pete Fay has been coming to these meetings for 66 years! He just got an ovation.

1:31
Leigh Emery: Ask you to consider taking up Article 13 out of order so that the Assabet people do not have to stay through the entire meeting. Would like to have it considered after Article 7.

1:31
The proposal passed.

1:32
All candidates from recent election have been recognized.

1:33
Article 2. John Arnold: Vote to receive reports of the various officers and committees.

1:33
John Arnold: Speaking on behalf of the AFC. Met 20 times since Jan. 25. Encouraging voters to pick up printed booklet of recommendations.

1:34
John Arnold: 2.281 million excess levy capacity if all of the articles are voted upon.

1:35
John Arnold: We recognize that we are a board of 9 people advise you, but the town meeting is the town’s legislature. This is our turn to do it and do it right. “There are hard decisions to be made.”

1:36
John Arnold: We all have to make our own decisions about what we can afford.

1:36
John Arnold: School Committee is asking for 3.25 percent increase.

1:40
Resident would like to comment. General comment. STeve Buttiglieri: Statement about general budget. I’d like residents to remember how fast the taxes have gone up over the past ten years. Past ten years, average residential tax rate increase of more than 7% every year. If taxes continue this increase, the financial danger is higher taxes and lower property values. As we go through these articles, I challenge you to consider what impact these decisions will have on taxes.

1:42
Town Manager Jim Malloy: Answering question from Buttiglieri about post employment benefits.

1:43
Malloy: Retirement benefit is calculated within the levy limit.

1:44
Motion on Article 2. Passes unanimously.

1:46
Harrington reading the list of those who have served the town and passed away in 2011. Everyone has risen in silence.

1:46
There are now several hundred people in attendance for the 2012 Annual Town Meeting.

1:47
Harrington thanks the departed for their service, thanks Pete Fay for putting together list of departed.

1:48
Article 3: George Barrette asks town to overlok this article. Jim Malloy: there is no need to transfer a budget, so no need for this article.

1:48
Passed unanimously to pass over Article 3.

1:48
Article 4: Amend personel classification plan.

1:49
James Parker, Jr: I move that the town vote to approve this article as printed int he warrant.

1:50
James Parker, Jr.: This year we are not adding any new positions, but we are increasing the hours from 19 to 35 for an Outreach Case Manager at the Council on Aging… going from an S position to a union position. Council on aging has requested this for several year. We have come to a way to do this by increasing the hours.

1:51
Passes by unanimous vote.

1:51
Comment From eugene
thnx for this service – my folks still live in westboro – i havent seen the inside of that auditorium since 1977 lol – currently ion Dallas …this is fun

1:52
Article 5: Amend Wage and Salary Schedule. James Parker, Jr. asks town to approve as printed in warrant.

1:54
James Parker, Jr.: This year we approved a 1.5% increase for non-union people. Most are department heads and hourly people. In years past, we’ve always come to an average of what the union people got the past few years. Last year, we didn’t do that. We feel it’s time we gave non-union personel a 1.5% increase as is printed in the warrant.

1:54
Richard Gottleib: In the interest of the cost impact of the town, what is the total cost in terms of salaries and other compensation?

1:54
Jim Malloy: $43,763

1:55
STeve Buttiglieri: I recall that we had this discussion last year. We voted to increase these numbers 1 percent last year.

1:56
Steve Buttiglieri: This is two years of increases… to be paid by people who have not had an increase, some who are underemployed. I cannot justify two raises. There is a lot you can do with $43K. Too much of a burden on individual taxpayer in town.

1:58
James Parker, Jr.: Brief explanation… in union section of the town, there are 122 at the maximum steps… all of the unions have a similar wage scale… on the non-union side, there are 36 nonunion employees already at the maximum increase…

1:58
Vincent Borkowski: How ’bout those New York Giants?

2:00
Vincent Borkowski: There are some people in private industry that don’t get raises. They didn’t get a raise last year, this year or next year. Some of these people live here in Westborough. Everyone should get a raise.. but those who do not get raises in private industry are the ones to pay for these raises.

2:00
Vincent Borkowski: When we come to these step increases, we need to think about these people who are unemployed and underemployed.

2:01
Denise Ward: I agree with that gentleman. We would like everyone to have good salaries, but at the moment we all need to tighten our belts.

2:02
Malloy: we are talking about 36 employees, a very small percentage of the payroll.

2:03
Malloy: This is not a double pay increase. It is instead working employees up to where the market is. Step is to get people to market value.

2:04
Ms. Shuman: Some people who have reached the maximum step reached it a long time ago… they might not have received a step raise in many, many years.

2:06
Mr. Caprioli: I disagree with Mr. Malloy. People work for what the market bears. That argument is incorrect. What went on here was very, very, very important. Some spoke on fiscal responsibility, some spoke on spending extravagantly.

2:06
Mr. Caprioli: This vote sets the tone of this meeting going forward for the millions of dollars we’re going to spend going forward. We need reasonable budget, not just piling on the taxes.

2:08
Rod Jane: I think the issue is an issue of fairness. There are 36 employees that the town chose to give 1.5% increase… the union employees got 1.6%. Do not put the town’s challenges on the backs of these employees

2:08
Comment From Sam
Thank you, Mary Jo! This is the future of town meeting!

2:09
Steve Doret: Union people have the power of the union behind them. The fairest way we could find in 1992 was averaging union settlements in the past and offering it to the nonunion. Our purpose was to not drive these employees to the union.

2:11
Denise Ward: Perhaps town should find ways to save money – such as green initiatives – to fund this.

2:11
Harrington is asking for vote. This article passed by majority vote. Majority in favor of paying the raise.

2:12
Article 6: Annual Budget for FY13

2:12
John Arnold is reading the motion.

2:13
John Arnold: As Mr. Harrington reads through bugets, he is going to be reading AFC recommended budget totals.. Arnold is explaining the process of reading through budget.

2:15
Harrington: I’m going to read totals, not specifics. Votes will be on the line items.

2:15
Harrington: “If you question an item, sing out loud and clear”

2:16
Harrington: We will vote unquestioned items as a block. Those that were questioned will be taken separately. Majority vote required.

2:16
Question on Board of Selectmen budget

2:17
Question on MIS/GIS

2:18
Questions on elections and registrations

2:19
Question on Fire and Ambulance budget

2:19
Question on Building Department

2:20
Question on DPW

2:20
Question on snow and ice removal

2:22
Question on sewer enterprise fund

2:23
Question on school budget

2:24
Question on insurance budget

2:25
Question on youth and family services

2:25
Question on the debt

2:26
Rescinding question on snow and ice… treating now as unquestioned

2:26
Someone new would like to question snow and ice

2:26
Question on country club enterprise fund

2:27
Now voting on unquestioned budget items. Passes by majority vote. One in opposition.

2:28
Now discussing Board of Selectmen budget

2:29
Vincent Borkowski: Unfunded liabilities totalling $80 million… why are we putting this off. Should we be doing something now?

2:29
Jim Malloy: We are doing something.

2:29
Vincent Borkowski: Post-employment funding. Don’t have to pay until 2030?

2:31
Town Manager Jim Malloy: Early part of retirement system, they were not taking enough from employees. What the assessment we have is to make up for those who aren’t paying the higher rate.. this is called unfunded… we will be getting back on track by 2030.

2:32
Editor’s note: The conversation between Malloy and Borkowski went very quickly. I’m not sure I fully got the gist of that conversation. Will have to follow up at a later time.

2:34
Richard Gottleb: Salary and wages line of Selectmen budget. In FY2011, there was underexpenditure. I don’t see any estimate of what the FY12 is going to be. this FY13 is over the FY12.

2:35
Jim Malloy: There is a $19K surplus from FY11 because of asst. town manager coming in at lower paygrade.

2:36
Tom Caprioli: I would like to reduce the budget of $347,970 and leave it up to the well-paid manager to figure out his department budget.

2:37
Tom Caprioli: Let’s say that I want to cut 10% out of the budget.

2:37
Harrington is not in favor of this suggestion.

2:38
Tom Caprioli: I don’t have to be specific if I want to cut from the line item. I’d like to modify the Salary and Wages of $299,870 to $250,000.

2:39
Tom Caprioli: They should have to pay what we say to pay, not what they ask us to “cough up.”

2:39
Tom Caprioli: It’s about going backward in the big giveaway.

2:40
Tom Caprioli: The Town Manager makes over $150K, he should be able to do this. He should be able to do three jobs for that salary.

2:40
Applause. Harrington asks that applause is held. Mutual courtesy is by vote, he says. No intimidation.

2:41
Harrington: Salary and Wages has two numbers now — the AFC and Mr. Caprioli’s. We start with higher figure and move on down.

2:42
John Arnold: I just want to make a point about how process worked. The budget numbers are recommended by AFC. We review proposals by department heads. The budgets that you see here are not offered with no oversight or no discussion.

2:43
John Arnold, AFC chair: We recognize the difficulties that we all have. We recognize that we have put forward a concerted effort to put on the brakes. I want to let people to know that the budget is not just written up and put before the voters. It goes through long and thoughtful process.

2:44
Malloy: I’d certainly like to stand up and support my own budget. Each year that I’ve been here, I’ve reduced our budget. We’re currently $35K below where we were 3 years ago.

2:50
Paula Liss (not sure I got that name correct): I agree with Mr. Caprioli. I’ve lived in town for 30 years. Every year I’ve come here, I have never seen town officials ask every board in town to hold budget to what it was in the previous year.

2:51
Paula Liss (not sure it is the correct name): “I think the Finance Committee needs to go back and sharpen its pencils.” If we approve this $33M appropriation that will be asked for tonight at 7 p.m. We’re gonna squeeze taxpayers and property values are going to drop.

2:54
Ross Marrow (sp?), Ruggles Street resident: Previous speaker said she lived here 30 years. I have lived here 50. My wife and I have paid taxes that have gone up astronomically, especially in the past 10 years. We need to control our expenses. I tried to bring business to this town. Now we have to compete with other towns to bring business back into this town.

2:57
Tom Caprioli: Can I modify my amount, please? I was just exaggerating before. Let’s move the number to $285,000 from the $250,000. The AFC has a “go along, get along attitude.” This town may be ready for a change of direction. We are not here to vote on what they want us to give them.

2:58
Carolyn Spring moves to end debate. It passes.

2:59
Vote for Salary and Wages… AFC: $299,870 is first vote… carries with majority. Mr. Caprioli’s proposal fails.

3:00
Harrington: MIS/GIS vote next

3:01
Richard Gottleb: Concern on expense line. Considerable portion not explained. I want more information. What is criteria on replacing computers? Can it be deferred?

3:02
Mark Stockman, director MIS/GIS: $8500 is the expense line for new computers/equipment, $2500 for new server plan.

3:04
Jim Malloy is going through specifics of MIS/GIS budget expenses. He said there are a few dozen items on the list. He is going through each of them very quickly.

3:05
If you have a comment about this live blog, please click the link and let us know what you think!

3:05
Comment From Gary Kelley
Roughly how many people are at Town Meeting?

3:05
There has not yet been a counted vote. My estimate is a few hundred people… maybe about 300.

3:06
Rich Gottleb: I’m not comforted.

3:07
John Arnold: This is the first year that there is a line item for moving to a more efficient system.

3:07
Comment From Bob
so that’s about 3% of the voters?

3:08
Harrington asking for vote on MIS/GIS budget. Passes with majority vote.

3:08
Harrington asking for five minute break.

3:12
There are 11,163 eligible voters in Westborough as of the 2012 March 6 election. I estimate about 300 (I’m not the best estimator so this is just an opinion) are here right now.

3:20
Comment From Bob
… That’s less than 3%. What percentage of the voters turned out for the last election?

3:21
Comment From Gary Kelley
I’m from the midwest where there is an elected Mayor and City Council. In both cases, it is a small number of people making the decisions. With town meeting you can directly participate.

3:22
Called back to order
Vote on Elections and registrations budget. Passes unanimously.

3:23
Dave Brown: Insurance question.. $10M with so little detail. What exactly are we insuring?

3:24
Dave Brown: Could this be broken out by department? Fire trucks? Buildings? Why one line item?

3:25
Comment From Bob
… and you can upset your neighbors if you vote the “wrong way.” Town meeting is too personal. The anonymity of the voting booth is needed to get real results…
3:26
Jim Malloy: I do post the detailed items on the town website. There are a host of things that make up this budget item. Unemployment compensation, medicare, group insurance for life, health insurance (which sounds to be the majority at over $8M)…
3:26
Motion has carried by majority to pass insurance budget.

3:27
Fire and ambulance budget being addressed

3:30
Tom Caprioli, Crownridge Road: I’m not here to attack anybody or any department. I’m just here to get some control on the budget. There is no sacred cows… I’m well aware the way firemen are characterized as important members of community… the fire budget compared to police budget has gone up much higher… 14% to 6%… in the spirit of starting somewhere… we should reduce the fire and ambulance. Caprioli wants to cut the budget for salary and wage in the fire budget from $3,156,197 to $3,100,000.

3:30
Caprioli: Move this discussion from what we would like to spend from what would we like to receive.

3:31
Nick Perron, Fire Chief: AFC and Selectmen agree with my budget after reviewing it.

3:32
Paul George, Robin Road: We talk a lot about the money, and someone always brings up fire and police. These are departments that have to be on point. Cut where budget is not essential, not where you have to have someone die to make a point. This ought not be the line item we have a conversation about.

3:33
Fern Emsee (sp?), Myrtle Street: We’re never told how much the fire department is earning of their keep. Where can we find out how much they are bringing in.

3:33
Jim Malloy: $765,000 in ambulance fees for the past year.

3:34
Richard Gottleb, Ruggles Street: That income would directly offset of the $3.4M of expenses in fire budget?

3:34
Jim Malloy: There is a net effect, yes.

3:35
Richard Gottlieb: I think comments coud be allayed if Nick Perron would speak about what would happen if the funds are cut or increased. It would be a service to Town Meeting if called upon to do that.

3:36
Nick Perron: All of our statistics are in Annual Town Report on page 260. You got it when you came in the door.

3:37
To answer earlier question, 23% voter turnout in the March 6 town election.

3:37
Comment From Bob
… $2,000+ a day in ambulance fees?

3:37
Tom Caprioli: All departments need to be cut. We have to start somewhere.

3:37
Comment From Bob
Shouldn’t the town report be emailed in advance to every voter?

3:38
Proposal to end debate. Unanimously passed.

3:39
Now to a vote for salary and expenses. Majority vote passes the AFC recommended number of Fire and Ambulance Salary and Wages of $3,156,197. The entire fire budget of $3,464,556 was approved.

3:39
Comment From Bob
23% vote in a booth vs 3% showing up in person at town meeting. Hmmm…

3:40
Building department budget now up for vote.

3:41
Majority vote passes building department budget of $321,078 as recommended by AFC.

3:42
Vincent Borkowski: For DPW there was a report that there is an empty mechanics position and you want to fill it. Is that reflected in this budget?

3:42
John Walden, DPW: Yes.

3:44
Vincent Borkowski: Once again, when people have great hardships, a lot of toil and uncertainty…I’m not sure this is the right time to add staff to the town of Westborough. If there is a concern about needing an additional mechanic, perhaps we can farm out repair/service work. Why don’t we look into that? It’s the wrong time to add staff. There are also a long with any position comes a pension liability that the town has to pay. And we have learned that the town owes $10s upon $10s of millions that need to be paid. I don’t think we should be adding staff at this time.

3:45
John Walden, Summer St., DPW: Approximately 2 years ago, we had 2 mechanics. One retired, we didn’t fill. What I did was when there was a vacancy in other areas of the DPW, I tried to hire someone with mechanical experience. We are falling behind in repairs.

3:45
Comment From Bob
Mary Jo, has everything been approved so far?

3:45
Yes.

3:47
John Walden: Right now we have one mechanic that is maintaining hundreds of pieces of equipment. We are falling behind. We are farming out at great expense. We also have contractual obligations with union on wages. We are receiving a great number of complaints that we are not maintaining weeds, etc. in cemeteries, to the point where we are considering refunds.

3:48
JJMalone, Adams St, AFC.: 34% of the mechanics position is being funding by DPW, 33% in sewer enterprise account, 33% in the water account. The mechanics position at the DPW is the centrallized place for the town vehicles, not just the DPW vehicles.

3:49
Mark Silverberg, Weld St.: If you are currently farming out these repairs, why is the budget going up if you plan to go to a mechanic?

3:51
John Walden: We are falling behind. If we have a mac engine blow up, that does go out. I’m talking about repaire work at generators, sewer and water stations, preventive maintenance, police department and town hall vehicles. DPW maintenance is falling behind. In the long term that’s going to cost us a lot more money in terms of pieces… if I don’t get a hold of this pretty quick, we’re going to have additional expenses.
3:51
Paula Less (sp?), Blake Street: I understand seniors can lower tax bill by working for the town. Is that the case?
3:51
Comment From Bob
Refunds?

3:52
I’m typing and listening at the same time, Bob. I think he was referring to refunding some of the maintenance costs for those who pay for cemetery plots? I’m really not sure. Will look into it when I get a chance.

3:53
Malloy: Senior citizens who work for the town… not sure they can go out and weed wack in the town. Some have skills and we use those. We use them for office work, on the most part. We have about 50 different people who work for us to earn about $1,000 off their taxes.
3:55
Paula Less: I’m sure there are quite a few people in town who would be willing to weed wack or maintain lawns if they thought their tax bills were lowered.

2
DPW budget carries by majority vote.

4:02
Snow and ice budget now being discussed.

4:03
Nancy Harris, Blake Street: I would expect there is quite a bit of money left. Can we put the excess into next year’s budget. Or is that not done?

4:03
Malloy: All budgets not expended get closed out to free cash.

4:04
Vincent Borkowski, Adams Street: Since there is money left over, can we return it to the taxpayer?

4:04
Harrington: Malloy just said that it goes to free cash.

4:05
Budget of $449,211 passes with majority vote.

4:06
Steve Buttiglieri: What is the youth and family services? Is this just dropping off clothing for people to pick up? Is this just a repository?

4:08
John Badenhausen, director of WYFS: Most of what the department does is provide mental health services. Giving away “free stuff” is a very small part of what we do. there’s no town money that is used in distributing that stuff. Most of the budget goes to the staff that we have to provide mental health services. We have a fairly extensive report that is in the annual town report. I hope everybody reads it.

4:09
By majority vote, budget of $168,478 for Youth and Family Services is passed.

4:09
Comment From Bob
So, there’s an excess of “free cash?”

4:10
Dave Brown, Thomas Newton Dr.: Debt expense has gone up $1M last year. The budget is debt expense. What is causing this to go up so rapidly? I there any pricipal involved in this?

4:11
Editor’s note: Debt budget: $11,455,901

4:11
Malloy: Most is for the water and sewer treatment center as required by the EPA.

4:12
Mark ?, Hundreds Road: Can we get a breakdown of the debt information? So that we can go forward knowing where we are in our debt payoff.

4:12
Malloy: Very specific debt info will be shared at the special town meeting tonight. dEtailed through 2034.

4:13
Debt budget vote: passes by majority vote.

4:13
To answer earlier question, Malloy explained that the free cash is used to make capital expenditure purchases.

4:14
Scott Parker, Milk St.: Have question a few departments within the DPW. What is our town policy on personal use of town owned vehicles.

4:15
John Walden: Vehicles are assigned to anyone who is on call for emergency…especially in water and sewer division… a number of these people do live out of town… they go directly to the pump station if there is a problem.. they report directly to the incident.

4:16
Sewer Enterprise fund now being voted: $1,780,822 passed unanimously.

4:16
Country club enterprise fund was questioned.

4:17
Marsha Goldman, Woodcrest Road: Is the country club private or public entity? What works needs to be done? In these harsh times, can work wait?

4:18
User fees pay to play golf.

4:18
Comment From Michael Hyde
Hey MaryJo – awesome transcription job! Where are you sitting in the hall, I’d like to stop by and say “hi” 🙂

4:19
Hi Michael (www.westborough.com) ! I’m on the right hand side of the hall, up against the wall by the electric source…’cuz I’m afraid the computer battery will die… long day ahead, as you know.

4:19
Comment From Bob
Maybe we should use the excess free cash to pay down some of the debt…

4:20
John Arnold, AFC: We are voting to pay for an amount to run the country club operations. It is essentially run in a situation that the town gets money back from those who pay to play there.

4:21
Country club budget of $50,641 passes by majority.

4:21
Put your seatbelt on… school budget now on the table.

4:22
Vincent Borkowski, Adams St.: Janitors in the news, custodians. How many custodians do we have? Have we ever considered contracting out school custodians? What is the total cost to taxpayer?

4:23
Ilyse Levine-Kanji, School committee: we have 31 custodians. We have considered outsourcing. We have 3500 students in our buildings every day andd the buildings are used frequently in the evening. We have heard about issues in places, like in Wellesley, and have decided that we like knowing who is in our buildings with our children.

4:24
Vincent Borkowski: I want to know cost of those custodians. I can appreciate the fact that you want to know who is in the building. When you consider post-employment benefits… I would like to know those numbers. I appreciate what you are doing. We are living in tough times.

4:26
Ilyse Levine-Kanji: Average custodial $45K. Just to broader question of personel cuts… over the last five years, we reduced our work force by over 6%… even though our enrollment has increased.

4:26
Comment From Bob
We can’t keep spending like we’re one of those “W” towns.

4:26
Vincent Borkowski: There’s always a way to find a solution, and the very best solution. At $1.5M (the cost of the custodians), please find one.

4:27
Tom Caprioli: She said she cut staffing 6% in the last five years? If you have cut staffing 6% , why did budget increase 16.5%.

4:29
Ilyse Levine-Kanji: We don’t have control over… our transportation, gas prices have increase.Special ed out-of-district tuitions we do not have control over. The state allows private schools to increase tuition and we have to pick that up. We are responsible to bus homeless children living in town hotels back to their home districts, at a cost of $100K this year alone.

4:30
Ilyse Levine-Kanji: energy savings for next year, our business manager has carefully monitored natural gas costs to cut $76K, green team to agressively to recycle decreasing our number of trash pickups… we certainly are looking under every rock to find efficiencies… we take our volunteer jobs very seriously.

4:31
Comment From Bob
We pay $30,000 a week to keep our schools clean?

4:32
Mr. Abladian: You are seeing the frustration of the taxpayers. Town government has no money. The only money the town has is the money we give to them for services we ask of them.

4:32
Comment From Cheryl
What, if children are living in our town hotels why are we responsible to bus them to their town?

4:34
Mr. Abladian: Stock market flat, social security has been flat… people are making a decision to pay taxes or eat…. town officials should bring a budget with 0% increase. My point is please take a challenge and when you come to town budget next year, tell us it is 0%.

4:34
Comment From Bob
Tell them I’ll clean the schools for $25,000 a week. That’ll save the town $250,000!

4:35
Ilyse Levine-Kanji: We have lost federal stimulus money. The money we have lost is costing the taxpayers. We have no control over this.

4:37
Marsha Goldman, Woodcrest Rd.: With all due respect to ILK, regardless of not getting funding. You have to learn to do without and have to learn within. When people don’t get pay raises, they have to learn to live within. We have been dealing with this for years. Times are really tough. I think we do have to open up our eyes and say no more. The school takes up the greatest chunk of these budgets. If that means cuts to personel, it means cuts to personel.

4:39
Ilyse Levine-Kanji: We came in with level services budget and the increase would be 5%. we decided that level services was way too much to bring to voters, so we made a decision to cut it to the 3.25%. Personel worked with us. There were no step raises, we also raised fees on families 150%.

4:39
Comment From William
Hi Mary Jo, Great Job. Wish I could be there.

4:39
Comment From Michael Hyde
RE: Cheryl’s comment, welcome to the challenge of “external forces” [e.g. state and federal mandates] and “past decisions’ [e.g. former town decisions *and* existing contracts, etc.] It’s all a very complex challenge… and, kudos to those volunteers trying to work all this out. My frustration is that I wish a lot of the town energy about these issues would get [productively!] involved three to six to nine months earlier when details around budgets are being drilled into.

4:42
Paula Less: Reduce the school budget by $400,000. we are the only town around that does not charge a bus stipend. I called the superintendent. it’s about 2743 students. If it’s less one dollar each way, if you charged that, you would offset the budget.

4:43
Paula Less: I’m asking you to reduce that budget by $470,000 (correction to above number)

4:43
Paula Less: That’s my motion.

4:43
Harrington: Take the higher amount first, then we take the lower number.

4:44
Ilyse Levine-Kanji: We have raised fees for families 150%. The law is that we must bus children over 2 miles at no charge.

4:47
Ilyse Levine-Kanji: We looked at all the pros and cons several years ago. If you charge a fee, some families will chose to drive. Eli Whitney will have to become one way. Gibbons may need an additional roadway inplemented. We will need to pay for crossing guards. For Mill Pond or Fales, there are no sidewalks.. I’m just getting started. [crowd laughter]

4:47
Denzil Drewry, Denfeld Drive: The school budget is a bottom line. If you cut the budget by any number, the school committee will decide where to make the cuts.

4:48
Vote underway, starting with the school budget as presented.

4:48
School budget passes by majority.

4:49
Comment From Gary Kelley
MaryJo, I’m checking in from time to time. Great job…I can get all “caught up” quickly. Thanks


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That’s all we happen to have from 2102.  Thanks again, MaryJo, for all your hard work.  <applause/>

One thought on “Town Meeting Memories – MaryJo’s Live Blog from 2012”

  1. 😮 Wow! Thanks for this memory, Michael! I really had a lot of fun doing this at the time and appreciate thinking on it again. I also remember westborough.com commenting during the “live broadcast.” 🙂

    Enjoy the day,
    MaryJo Kurtz

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