Opening of 2016 Annual Town Meeting & Special Town Meeting*

*Please note that this blog post is in no way an official record of the Annual or Special Town Meetings; it is offered as information to interested persons by a member of Town Meeting.


With newly elected Board and Committee Members duly sworn in, and new Town Meeting Members oriented, the 2016 Annual Town Meeting (ATM) kicked off in Margery Milne Battin Hall of the Isaac Cary Memorial Building  this week (Monday March 21).
A crisp Opening Ceremony began as the members of Town Meeting rose to welcome the Joseph Diamond Fife and Drum Corps and Minute Men color guard, processing into the hall playing "Yankee Doodle". After placing the colors while playing our "National Anthem", they exited the Hall.
Town Moderator Deborah Brown called the Meeting to order and provided introductory remarks and instructions. This brought us to ATM Article 2: Election of a Deputy Moderator and Madam Moderator forwarded her nomination of Barry Orenstein for the role. Barry has been a long-time Town Meeting Member (TMM) and has served on the TMMA executive comittee.
MOTION for Barry Orenstein to serve as Deputy Moderator.
The VOTE was unanimous.
From there, we moved rapidly through:
  • Adjournment of ATM and
  • Madam Moderator called the Special Town Meeting 2 to order,
  • immediately adjourning STM2 to Monday, April 11 (as the details for acquiring the Pelham property were not yet ready for TMMs), then,
  • Special Town Meeting 3 was called to order.
From there, the Meeting settled into its usual, familiar pace and TMMs considered the three Articles for the STM3:
Article 1: Reports from Town Boards, Officers, and Committees. Reports of the School Committee, Appropriation Committee, and Capital Expenditures Committee were received and placed on file.
Article 2: Appropriate for Middle Schools - Additions and Remodeling
MOTION that the Town:
a) Appropriate $4,105,000 to pay costs of remodeling, reconstructing, and making extraordinary repairs to the Jonas Clarke and William Diamond Middle Schools, located at 17 Stedman Road and 99 Hancock Street, respectively, including the payment of costs of architectural and engineering services, original equipment and landscaping, paving, and other site improvements incidental or directly related to such remodeling, reconstruction, or repair,; and that to meet this appropriation, the Treasurer, with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, is authorized to borrow $4,105,000 under MGL Chapter 44, Section 7(3A), or any other enabling authority; and
b) Appropriate $58,092,200 to pay costs of additions, remodeling, reconstructing and making extraordinary repairs to the Jonas Clarke and William Diamond Middle Schools, located at 17 Stedman Road and 99 Hancock Street, respectively, including the payment of costs of architectural and engineering services, original equipment and landscaping, paving and other site improvements incidental or directly related to such additions, remodeling, reconstruction or repair; that to meet this appropriation the Treasurer, with the approval of the Board [of] Selectmen, is authorized to borrow $58,092,200 under MGL Chapter 44, Section 7(3A), or any other enabling authority, provided that no sums shall be borrowed or expended pursuant to this vote unless the Town shall have voted to exclude the amounts needed to repay any borrowing pursuant to this vote from the limitations on the property tax levy imposed by Chapter 59, Section 21C of the General Laws (otherwise known as Proposition 2-1/2). in anticipation of state aid; or act in any other manner in relation thereto.
This MOTION comes forward following, approximately, a two-year public process and in response to rapid enrollment growth in Lexington's Public Schools. In 2009, K-12 enrollment was 6,114 students; on October 1, 2015, enrollment had reached 6,866 students, and is projected to continue to increase each year to about 7,478 students in school year 2020/21.
Members of Appropriation, Capital Expenditures, and School Committees, as well as the Board of Selectmen were in unanimous support of adopting this MOTION.
TMMs queued up at the "Question" microphone. Madam Moderator fielded a number of questions about the impact of tax increase on Lexington homeowners and about the plans for additions and remodeling at Clarke and Diamond Middle Schools.
Carl Valente, Town Manager, Pat Goddard, Director of Public Facilities, and Ken DiNisco, DiNisco Design, were on hand to answer technical and detailed questions regarding tax impact, funding the plan, and design questions.
One member of the public spoke in support of the plan, due to the overcrowding in schools across Town, and asked TMMs to support it, also.
With one person still to speak at the "?" mic and at least one at the "NO" mic, a TMM standing at the "YES" mic was called upon by the Town Moderator; he "called the question", signalling to the Meeting that enough debate had been heard. The MOTION was brought to the whole Meeting and a majority supported closing debate.
Madam Moderator called for a VOTE on the main MOTION.
The MOTION was approved.
Article 3: PEG Access and Cable Related Fund Acceptance
MOTION that this article be indefinitely postponed was unanimously approved.
With business of the STM3 concluded, Madam Moderator called for a MOTION for dissolution from the Board of Selectmen.
The MOTION was unanimously approved.
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Some Town Meeting Members (TMMs) post their thoughts about Town Meeting Articles, questions, and process following the proceedings and in the days preceding ATM. Those postings may be viewed publicly on the Town Meeting Member’s Association (TMMA’s) email listserve HERE. Do note that only TMMs may post to the list.