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Selectmen Meeting Minutes Joint Meeting 03/27/2014
Join Budget Hearing
Preliminary Meeting Minutes
Middleton Board of Selectmen, and Middleton Finance Committee
Flint Public Library Meeting Room
Thursday, March 27, 2014
7:00 pm

In Attendance:

Board of Selectmen:  Kosta Prentakis, Nancy Jones, Chris Lindberg and Tim Houten
Absent:  Brian Cresta

Finance Committee:  John Erickson, Steve Cocciardi, George Dow, and Toni Mertz
Absent:  John Mahoney, Michelle Cresta, and Jill Mann

Town Administration:  Ira Singer, and Ryan Ferrara

Other Town Department Heads and members of the pubic (in no particular order):  Bob LaBossiere, Sally George, Sgt. James Currier, Capt. Tom Martinuk, Chief Frank Twiss, Andrew Vanni, Matthew Cocciardi, Derek Fullerton, Don Carter, Henry Tragert, Tasha Cooper and Sharon Lyons.

Call to Order:

Chair Kosta Prentakis called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m.  

K. Prentakis welcomed those in attendance and explained how the review of the Warrant Articles will be handled.  Instead of reading each one, they will be summarized and the full articles will be presented by overheads.  He also mentioned for those watching at home, that the PowerPoint presentation will be available on the Town’s website, www.townofmiddleton.org.  He then asked for all to observe a moment of silence to honor those Boston Firefighters who died in the recent Boston fire.

K. Prentakis asked I. Singer to continue.  He did by speaking to yesterday’s tragedy in Boston.  He stated that the Town of Middleton does not take for granted the service of the outstanding police and fire departments.   He stated it’s a sad day for everyone, but hopes that important lessons were learned moving forward.

He then introduced the FY15 overall budget.  He stated that this is a 5% increase over last year’s budget and discussed state aid levels, which do not contribute much to this budget.  I. Singer explained the need for additional funding for Veteran’s aid, and he discussed the Chapter 70 estimates.  He discussed the continuing growth of the Town, and how Special Education costs are especially high.  All Town Departments have growth issues.  He discussed the need for an additional police officer and firefighter, which the Town has not done in almost 6 years.



Discussion then turned to the FY15 budget, and I. Singer referred those in attendance to the summary on Page 1 of the draft Warrant for Fiscal Year 2015.  He gave an overview of the highlights of this year’s budget and stated that every Town department is important, and the Town of Middleton has been fortunate to give proper attention to all aspects of Town government.   He is grateful that the Town is presenting a balanced budget, and there is no need for an override, which tends to create a bit more stress and difficulty.  He then thanked all Department Heads and Committee Chairs for their contributions, and thanked Ryan Ferrara for all of his hard work in this effort.

Articles 1 through 4 were summarized by K. Prentakis with the following discussion:

K. Prentakis summarized the Compensation Plan for Non-Union Employees.  Tasha Cooper of the Middleton School Committee noted that the School Committee has requested in the past that the $600 per member be included in the budget, because no one on the School Committee has ever taken it.  I. Singer explained that it’s just permission to pay, and if it’s not in the Elementary School Committee budget, it doesn’t have an impact.  He agreed to add a footnote explaining this.

K. Prentakis continued with his review, and conversation arose with regard to the department total for North Shore Essex Agricultural and Vocational School District.  I. Singer addressed this by saying that he got an e-mail recently from Susan Weitzler, School Committee Chairperson, who stated they should have a good number in a week or two.  Currently, the number represented for this department are just estimates.  He noted that the number of Middleton students has dropped from 17 last year, to 15 this year.

Discussion then turned to the request for additional funding for the Tri-Town Council.  I. Singer explained what the Tri-Town Council is.  It’s a wonderful group of volunteers from all three towns, which offer thousands of parents and youth with many programs and workshops and connect countless more with basic needs, counseling, and other support each and every year.  They work tirelessly with limited resources to ensure that parents, guardians and educators have the tools they need to support healthy families and youth, and that all children have access to programs, activities and information which promote strong growth and healthy decision making.  The Council expressed its gratitude for the 6% increase in funding for FY15, but asked the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee if they would consider an increase of up to 10%.  K. Prentakis stated that the Board of Selectmen has already approved this.  J. Erickson stated that the Finance Committee had also voted to approve this at their last regular meeting.

As the reading of the budget continued, I. Singer noted that the retirement expense is one of the largest increases, up 30% over last fiscal year.  Health Insurance has also increased by 5.5%

He also spoke to the matter of debt service by first discussing some potential new debt service projects coming forward.  One includes a new public safety building, as well as a recreational land purchase at Emily Maher Park for the development of fields for recreational needs.

G. Dow asked if the Town is every going to get an annual report.  I. Singer responded that this year the Warrant will go out with all the information necessary to include in an annual report and this will be mailed to every household.  R. Ferrara stated that it will also include contact information for Town Officials.

B. LaBossiere was asked to provide an update on the various water issues the Town has been dealing with.  B. LaBossiere explained that the winter treatment plant was closed, and without irrators, the chemicals aren’t able to filter through the system.  The system is full of iron and manganese.  Additionally the pond completely froze, but was treated to get all the algae removed.  The irrator is now back online and they are doing more treatments.  Next Monday the DPW will be doing hydrant flushing, which may cause a little dirty water.  This project will be finished by the second week in April.  I. Singer explained that the Town of Danvers operates the water system, but has done a great job in keeping Middleton Officials up to speed.

K. Prentakis referred to Page 17 in the warrant, pertaining to the proposed FY2015 Community Preservation Budget.  He reviewed the recommended projects, amount and funding sources, and explained that each year the Town Meeting must appropriate or reserve for future appropriation at least 10% of the estimated annual fund revenues for acquisitions and initiatives in the areas of:  open space; historic resources; and community housing.  He stated that the Town has received $700,000 in matching funds since beginning the program.

K. Prentakis summarized Article 5, the FY15 Omnibus Budget with a total of $29,136,450.

The following article was discussed:

6. On petition of the Middleton Rails to Trails Committee and Board of Selectmen to see if the
Town will vote to raise and appropriate $130,000 to construct Phase I of the planned 5.2 mile Rails to Trails pedestrian and bike paved trail way including but not limited to parking areas along the utility and former “narrow gauge” rail right of way from Maple Street to Essex Street a distance of approximately 7,000 feet, and to authorize the Town to apply for grant funds through the State Department of Conservation and Recreation and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing or by any combination thereof.

R. Ferrara referred to a series of google maps outlining the proposed areas.  I. Singer outlined the proposed area for Phase I which consists of approximately 7,000 linear feet.  The area between Essex Street to Howe Manning School is approximately 3,700 linear feet, and the area between Howe Manning School to the corner of Liberty Street approximately makes up the difference.  He spoke to the map prepared by the Middleton Rail Trail Advisory Committee (MRTAC), of which D. Fullerton is a member.  I. Singer then asked D. Fullerton to elaborate.   He started by stating the Committee’s original goal was to have a total of 5.2 miles, and include a rollerblade/skateboard park, and other paved surface areas for walkers, joggers, etc.  They ended up with 1.4 miles and have broken the project into three phases.  This first phase is the most attractive and purposeful piece.

Danvers has provided a letter offering their support.  D. Fullerton continued to explain why this phase should be done first and the other two sections later.  On April 17, the MRTAC will be sending a letter to all abutters of this land, asking them to attend a public meeting in order to provide feedback.  I. Singer said he is very excited about this project, and the Committee has put a great deal of work into this, and have really done a great job. K. Prentakis stated that the Master Plan Committee did a survey recently, asking for their ideas on what they would like to see in the Town.  The responses included in large part walking trails.

Articles 6 through 12 were summarized by K. Prentakis with no questions or discussion.

The following article was discussed:

13. On petition of the Fire Chief to see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of
$465,000 to be used together with the trade in or resale value of the 2002 Ferrara Pumper for the purchase of a new Fire Pumper in accordance with specifications of the Town, and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing or by any combination thereof.

R. Ferrara displayed pictures on the overhead, showing what the 2002 Ferrara Pumper looks like, and a picture of a newer model, (a picture of the same Danvers Fire Department truck was displayed).  Chief Twiss spoke to this article, and explained the benefits of the new truck, which include it being a safer vehicle.

The following article was discussed:

14. On petition of the Middleton School Committee and Superintendent of Schools to see if the
Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $59,000 to replace the playground in front of the Fuller Meadow School next to the new swings, and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing or by any combination thereof.

K. Prentakis stated that the Community Preservation Committee will be asked to provide the funding for this article.  

Articles 15 through 20 were summarized by K. Prentakis with no questions or discussion.

In the following article it was noted that the word “inch” should be deleted.

21. On petition of the Superintendent of Public Works to see if the Town will vote to raise and
appropriate the sum of $25,000 to replace a 1990 trailer mounted leaf vacuum inch for the parks and cemeteries; and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing or by any combination thereof.

Article 22 was summarized by K. Prentakis with no questions or discussion.

The following article was discussed:

23. On petition of the Superintendent of Public Works to see if the Town will vote to raise and
appropriate the sum of $28,000 with $18,000 to replace and purchase a new athletic field groomer, and $10,000 for the replacement and purchase of a new 52” walk behind mower, and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing or by any combination thereof.

B. LaBossiere questioned to total amount of this article.  He stated that he did request a field groomer this year, but not the 52” walk behind mower, which was replaced last year.  After review, it was determined that this request was inadvertently carried over from last year.  The article will be changed to reflect the sum of $18,000 to replace and purchase a new athletic field groomer.  I. Singer acknowledged this and will make the change.

Article 24 was summarized by K. Prentakis with no questions or discussion.

The following article was discussed:

25. On petition of the Superintendent of Public Works and the Board of Selectmen to see if the
Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $90,000 to install drainage, construct a new parking lot and related improvements, widen the entrance, and plant trees and landscaping at Rubchinuk Park on East Street, and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing or by any combination thereof.

S. Cocciardi asked K. Prentakis if this was going to be funded in any way with Community Preservation funds.  K. Prentakis responded that with available funding already allocated to projects this year, there are not funds available.

The following article was discussed:

26. On petition of the Superintendent of Public Works to see if the Town will vote to raise and
appropriate the sum of $12,000 to purchase a GIS (Graphic Information System) Data Collector and related software to create an electronic database of the Town’s water system, catch basins, manholes, traffic signs, and other public works infrastructure which would be loaded into the Town’s overall GIS system for purposes of planning, maintaining, and improving the increasingly growing public works infrastructure of the Town, and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing or by any combination thereof.

K. Prentakis referred to B. LaBossiere who explained the types of data that will be collected, and its use.

Articles 27 through 31, all street acceptance articles, was summarized by K. Prentakis with no questions or discussion.





The following articles were discussed:

32. On petition of the Board of Selectmen to see if the Town will vote to appropriate $1,100,000 to purchase two land parcels owned by Richardson Green, Inc. described by Assessors Map 32A, Lot 6B and 6C consisting of approximately 4.6 acres on Natsue Way and to pay for incidental costs associated with the purchase, on-going State Department of Environmental Protection permitting, site remediation, and preliminary design of potential recreational uses, and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing or by any combination thereof.

32A.* On petition of the Board of Selectmen to see if the Town will vote to appropriate $50,000 for preliminary design, engineering, surveying, and other costs related thereto of planning active and passive recreational uses on various town owned lands, and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing or by any combination thereof.

Note from Board of Selectmen (Article 32A is to be acted upon only if Article 32 does not pass)

K. Prentakis began discussion, noting that this article represents the major expenditure in the article.  The Town has an opportunity to purchase from Richardson Green, two parcels of land on Natsue Way.  This consists of approximately 4.6 acres.  Natsue Way is off River Street, on the way to the Transfer Station, where there are existing recreational fields.  R. Ferarra displayed a map of these areas, while I. Singer explained that the landowner feels that the Town is responsible for contamination issues that exist under these properties.  For this reason the land has restricted uses, such as surface use for recreational fields.

If this article does not pass, the Master Plan Committee will move Article 32A, which provides for the funds to plan active and passive recreational uses on other Town owned land.

Article 33 pertains to the Storm water Management Bylaw and relative wording.  K. Prentakis stated that this has been reviewed by the Master Plan Committee, Planning Board, and Town By-law Committee.

Articles 34 through 38 were summarized by K. Prentakis with no questions or discussion.

The following articles were discussed:

39. On petition of the Board of Selectmen to see if the Town will accept the provisions of Chapter 32B, Section 20 of the Massachusetts General Laws, as amended by Chapter 68, Section 57 of the Acts of 2011 (the “Act”), and establish an Other Post-Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund (“OPEB Trust Fund”); and further that the Town Treasurer be authorized to execute and deliver the Custodian and Investment Agreement with HCST in substantially the form presented to this meeting and attached hereto, to sign checks and wire OPEB Trust Funds to HCST or to the Pension Reserves Investment Trust, or as it may otherwise be directed by HCST, and to make withdrawals and investments and enter into such agreements and deliver such certificates and other documents as HCST or the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board may direct; and that a sum of money be appropriated as the initial investment into the OPEB Trust Fund.

40. On petition of the Board of Selectmen to see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of
money to the Other Post-Employment Benefits Liability Irrevocable Trust Fund, and to see if such funds will be raised by taxation; by transfer from available funds, by borrowing, or by any combination thereof.

K. Prentakis explained that the purpose of these articles is to establish an OPEB liability trust fund in order to receive a better return on the Town’s investment, and to yield a higher rate of interest.

Articles 41 and 42 were omitted from the original draft, and distributed on a separate handout.

Articles 41 and 42 summarized by K. Prentakis with no questions or discussion.

Article 43, also omitted from the original draft, was discussed.

K. Prentakis stated that this article was proposed by Lynn Murphy and Henry Tragert.  H. Tragert explained that this article will allow Town Meeting Time be used to govern the annual Town Meeting in addition to Robert’s Rules.  H. Tragert also added that court decisions are not included in Robert’s Rules.

K. Prentakis reminded the meeting attendees that the Annual Town Meeting is scheduled for May 13, 2014.

At 9:07p.m., K. Prentakis made a motion and was seconded by T. Houten to adjourn the meeting.  The motion carried unanimously.


Respectfully Submitted,

Paula M. Lanfranchi
Recording Secretary
Tim Houten, Clerk
Middleton Board of Selectmen