2017 Annual Town Meeting, 7:15 PM

About to get underway. Live blogging, updating as we go.

Town Moderator calls Town Meeting to order; into immediate recess for Diversity Award Presentation.

7:15 PM LPS Diversity Award Presentation

Superintendent Mary Czajkowski announces Tammy Darling, a social studies teacher at LHS as this year's award recipient. Among other things and good work, Tammy revived the "Race and Gender" course this year.
We will remain in recess for a few minutes.
Tonight's Town Meeting (TM) Agenda was prepared by the Town Moderator, in consultation with staff, boards and committees, article sponsors.
This post is not an official record of the Annual Town Meeting proceedings; it is offered as information to interested persons by a member of Town Meeting.
And we're back in session.
Testing our electronic voting devices.

Article 2 - Capital Expenditures Committee Report: Receive the report of the CEC.
Unanimous - the report is received and placed on file.
Jill Hai, CEC Chair, speaks to the report's highlights.

Article 20 - Harbell Street AcceptanceTo see if the Town will vote to establish as a Town way and accept the layout of as a Town way Harbell Street from Paul Revere Road a distance of 645 feel, more or less, to the end of Harbell Street, as laid out by the Selectmen and to take by eminent domain, purchase or otherwise acquire any fee, easement, or other interest in land necessary therefor; and raise and appropriate money for the construction of said street and for land acquisition; determine whether the money shall be provided in the tax levy, by transfer from available funds, by borrowing, or by any combination of these methods; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
  • Funds requested: $147,000
  • Description: This article has been requested by residents of Harbell Street to have the street brought up to Town standards and accepted by the Town. The total cost of bringing the street up to Town standards will be borne by the residents through the assessment of betterments.
Requires 2/3 vote
Selectmen are unanimous
Appropriation Committee is unanimously in support
CEC approves with a vote 4-1
No - 2
Abstain - 3

Article 17 - Hastings School Replacement DesignTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate, borrow or transfer from available funds, any amount of money, to be expended under the direction of the Permanent Building Committee [PBC], for the costs for the Design Development phase of the detailed design relating to the Marie Hastings Elementary School located at 7 Crosby Road, in Lexington, which school facility shall have an anticipated useful life as an educational facility for the instruction of school children of at least 50 years and for which the Town may be eligible for a school construction grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authotrity (MSBA). The MSBA's grant program is a non-entitlement, discretionary program based on need, as determined by the MSBA, and any costs the Town incurs in connection with the Design Development phase in excess of any grant approved by and received from the MSBA shall be the sole responsibility of the Town; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen at the request of the School Committee).
  • Funds Requested: $720,000
  • Description: This funding will allow the design work for the Hastings School project to continue through the design development phase. While the appropriation is for $720,000, a partial reimbursement from the MSBA will bring the Town's costs closer to $540,000. It is anticipated that financing for the completion of design work and construction will be requested at a Fall 2017 Special Town Meeting (STM).
Director of Public Facilities, Pat Goddard makes a presentation.
School Committee Member, Jessie Steigerwald presents the report of the School Committee. The report is accepted and placed on file.
Selectmen: Unanimously in support
Appropriation Committee (AC): 9-0 in support
CEC: 5-0 in support
Question: Many sustainability features, can we revisit solar?
Goddard: It will be solar ready, infrastructure, the Town will get a better contract if we wait for the solar panels after the building is complete.
Question: What is the process?
Godard: Anticipate we will occupy in February 2020; will put out an RFP in spring of 2020
Q: What is to become of the "old" school after complete
Goddard: the site is constrained, We will demolish the building.
Q: I applaud building a new school. Have heard over $100M in debt and haven't addressed a "7th elementary school".
Goddard: The appropriation two years ago, we looked at multiple options for building school capacity and why we need a replacement for Hastings.
Q: What options, as to materials, do we have?
Goddard: The Permanent Building Committee is responsible for this and there is ongoing process as to what those choices are and will ultimately be chosen.
Q: Are there risks with this investment?
Goddard: MSBA has agreed to share in the cost of the study. If they don't approve the project scope, or the Town doesn't approve the scope
Lamb: Also risk of the Override Exclusion not passing.
Requires 2/3 vote
Yes - 155
No - 0
Abstain - 1

Article 15 - School Capital Projects and EquipmentTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money to purchase additional equipment, furniture and systems for the schools, and to maintain and upgrade the schools'technology systems; determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, by transfer from available funds, by borrowing, or by any combination of these methods; or act in any other maner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the School Committee)
Ian Daley presents need for new capital is primarily for MCAS 2.0
Selectmen: Unanimous
AC: Unanimous
CEC: Unanimous
Q: Ipads for middle school students - what's the life expectancy?
Daley: 5-6 years
Q: a bit of a concern, obsolete in a few years. Have we looked into renting?
Daley: We do evaluate that. Focus on Chromebooks, 3 yr life expectancy.
Q: How to chromebooks stand up?
Daley: we are confident they fulfill the needs of schools. We willcontinue to evaluate
Comment: We should continue to look into leasing equipment
Q: "Unfunded Mandate" WRT MCAS testing...what kind to money is the State requiring from us to put the test online.
Daley: $142,000 at the elementary level
Q: Unfunded mandates for testing - for all communities?
Daley: We are not unique
Q: Per unit cost for interactive whiteboards?
Daley: I don't have an exact unit cost in fron of me, they are throughout the district; use of tech being integrated in curriculum
Q about Ipads vs. chromebooks, something about the touch vs keyboards
Daley: We're constantly evaluating what works best for students
Q: Does the school dept currently have a furniture plan across all schools?
Daley: We're in the midst of that process for a 5-yr plan.
Requires 2/3 vote
Yes - 153
No - 0
Abstain - 2

Article 16 - Public Facilities Capital ProjectsTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money for capital improvements, renovations, including new construction to public facilities for:
  • School Building Envelopes and Systems Program;
  • - Lexington High School Air Conditioning – Teacher Planning Offices and Library;
  • Municipal Building Envelopes and Systems;
  • Public Facilities Mechanical/Electrical System Replacements;
  • - LHS Security Evaluation and Upgrade;
  • - LHS Guidance Space Mining;
  • - LHS Nurse Office and Treatment Space; and
Votes to be taken separately:
  • Public Facilities Bid Documents
  • Parking Lot for Community Center
and determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, by transfer from available funds, including enterprise funds, by borrowing, or by any combination of these methods; to determine if the Town will authorize the Selectmen to apply for, accept, expend and borrow in anticipation of State aid for such capital improvements; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
Selectmen Kelly presents the Article.
Pat Goddard presents the four LHS items.
Report of Selectmen is received and placed on file.
School Committee (SC): Unanimously Support for the relevant parts
CEC: Unanimous for the relevant parts
AC: Unanimous for the relevant parts
Q about a vision for a new high school (understand all of these band-aids)
Superintendent Czajkowski: We have a new principal coming and will work together on a vision for a new High School, but we need space for students to be treated by Guidance, Nurse, now.
Requires 2/3
Yes - 158
No - 0
Abstain - 1

Votes taken separately:

  • Public Facilities Bid Documents
Selectmen: Unanimously Supports
CEC: Unanimously Supports
AC: Supports 6-1-1
Community Center Program Advisory Committee: Unanimously Supports
Requires 2/3 Majority
Q: If the Gym were done alone, how much of the $6M would that make up?
Pat Goddard (PG): Not a lot of cost; when we get into the next phase we can detail that
Q: What's the distance between the two buildings?
PG: About 250 feet. Also looking to make a vehicle connection.
Q: The expectation is that there will be a walkway. Currently proposing substantial parking. Will there be direct access to the Pelham property?
PG: That's part of the plan; we will evaluate further in the next phase.
Q: There are access issues for pedestrians crossing Marrett Road - - does the scope include an eval of the entire site? Pelham, Marrett, both for vehicles and pedestrians?
PG: We will be doing a traffic study.
YES mic: Support for families to do activities together.
Q: right now we have gyms in all of the schools, not being used after school hours. Why aren't they used?
PG: They are universally booked every evening weeknights November-June. Estabrook gym is utilized by the Recreational Dept.
YES mic: Standing here in support for additional funding is needed for our clear understanding of costs.
Now someone is standing at the NO mic.
NO mic: If Pelham enrollment continues to rise, we will need more space. Plus, a new Fire Station, and a new Hastings School - overrides and increasing taxes make this a hard case to support at this time.
YES mic: We're talking about somethng that we need, not nice to have. Gym and kitchen are on the must have list.
Q: Vintage of this building and the wisdom of investing in this building (references PCBs); what is the pinch point in abatement costs to make it acceptable?
PG: The estimate incudes abatement for abestos and PCBs; EPA has updated their regulations to include caulk and masonry, which is less invasive now.
YES mic: Voting YES, was on the ad hoc committee that recommended to the Selectmen. Remind that this is an $117,000 appropriation to study and get more information.
Q: Kitchen being converted to professional kitchen? Could it be rented out as a function hall space, private & individuals?
PG: Yes, we're looking to updgrade to a professional
YES mic: I don't find this an easy vote, there are good arguments on both sides. I rise now because I hope we approve the funding and hope we will think through the next steps for funding and that approving this funding now does not commit anyone with questions to approve ultimate funding of the project.
MOTION to CALL the Question
Passes by voice vote
Simple majority vote
Yes - 126
No - 18
Abstain - 14
Continuing with Votes taken separately
  • Parking Lot for Community Center
Town Manager, Carl Valente presents expansion of 20 spaces at Community Center. Trying to accomplish 4 things with this deal: 1). to take ownership of the parking spaces; 2). very close to having an agreement with the Scottish Rite for a sidewalk; 3). agreed to putting up a sign identifying our Community Center at their entrance; 4). two-way access to the Community Center
Selectmen: Unanimous
AC: Unanimous
CEC: Unanimous
Q: How do you come by the $425K for a new parking lot, already paved?
CV: It was expensive parking to construct, due to drainage (~$300K)
Q: Why wasn't this parking lot purchased with the original deal?
CV: It wasn't a parking lot as part of the original deal - it was pine trees. Additional parking has emerged as an issue since the CC opened 20 months ago.
Q: What is the "agreement"?
CV: We have an agreement that we can each use the other's parking when needed for events.
Q: This is an appropriation for the parking lot only, not other 3 parts, correct?
CV: Correct
YES mic: I'm supporting since we've made a major investment in this campus and also wouldn't like the parking lot to be sold to another entity that isn't the Town.
Q: Do you know on average what percentage of users are not Lexington residents
CV refers to staff person of CC (apologies, I do not know her name): About 6,000 memberships, fewer than 20% are not Lexington residents.
Q: Could we limit parking to Lexington residents?
CV staff person: We could.
YES mic: We should think not in terms of "residents"; we should think in terms of "community".
Q: According to Zoning Bylaw, what is the demand for this lot?
CV: Can't answer
Q: Perhaps the Planning board?
CV: Pat Goddard reminded me that we needed 90 spaces as part of the building purchase.
Requires 2/3 Majority vote
Yes - 136
No - 9
Abstain - 6

Article 21 - Post Employment Insurance Liability FundTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money to the Town of Lexington Post Retirement Insurance Liability Fund, as established by Chapter 317 of the Acts of 2002; determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, by transfer from available funds, including enterprise funds, or by any combintion of these methods; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
  • Funds Requested: $1,842,895
  • Description: This article will allow the Town to continue to fund its unfunded liability for post-employment benefits for Town of Lexington retirees. Beginning with the FY2007 audit, the Town was required to disclose this liability. In preparation for funding this liability, Town Meeting voted to request special legislation to establish a trust fund for this purpose. This special legislation was approved in 2002.
Selectmen: 4 in support-1 recusal
AC: support
Simple Majority vote
Yes - 126
No - 8
Abstain - 5

Article 27 - Prior Years’ Unpaid BillsTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money from the Debt Service Stabilization Fund to offset the FY2018 debt service of the bond dated February 1, 2003 issued for additions and renovations to the Lexington High School, Clarke Middle School, and Diamond Middle School, as refunded with bonds dated December 8, 2011; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
  • Funds Requested
  • Description: This is an annual article to request funds to pay bills after the close of the fiscal year in which the goods were received or the services performed and for which no money was encumbered.
MOTION to Indefinitely Postpone carries unanimously

Article 24 - Specified Stabilization FundsTo see if the Town will vote to create, amend, rename, and/or appropriate sums of money to and from Stabilization Funds in accordance with Section 5B of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws for the purposed of: (a) Section 135 Zoning By-Law, (b) Traffic Mitigation, (c) Transportation Demand Management/Public Transportation, (d) School Bus Transportation; (e) Special Education, (f) Center Improvement District; (g) Debt Service, (h) Transportation Management Overlay District, (i) Capital; (j) Payment in Lieu of Parking; and (k) Avalon Bay School Enrollent Mitigation Fund and determine whether the money shall be provided by the Tax levy, by transfer from available funds, or by any combination of these methods; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
  • Funds Requested: $7,690,398
  • Description: This article proposed to establish and/or fund Stabilization Funds for specific purposes and to appropriate funds therefrom. Money in those funds may be invested and the interest may then become a part of the particular fund. These funds may later be appropriated for the specific designated purpose, by a two-thirds vote of an Annual or Special Town Meeting , for any lawful purpose.
Requires 2/3 Majority Vote
Selectmen: Supports
AC: Supports
CEC: Supports
Yes - 142
No - 1
Abstain - 1

Article 30 - Retirement COLA Base for RetireesTo see if the Town will vote to raise the base amount upon which cost of living adjustments are calculated for retirees from $13,000 to $14,000 as authorized by Section 103(j) of Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws, or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen at the Request of the Retirement Board)

  • Description: This article requests Town Meeting to approve the acceptance by the Retirement Board of a $1,000 increase in the maximum base amount upon which a retiree's cost-of-living adjustment is calculated.
Once passed, this increase cannot be retracted.
Selectmen: Unanimously with one recusal
AC: Majority 6-2-1 abstention
Question about the structure of the COLA; follow up on the "actuarial table".
Bob Cunha, Retirement Board: worked with the Assistant Town Manager (who is on the Retirement Board).
Question as to why 3% and not CPI
Bob Cunha, Retirement Board: a number of factors taken into consideration, includig impact on Town, sustainability, etc.
Impacts ~350 retirees.
YES mic: We're voting on giving 350 of our retirees an additional $30 /year. I see no reason why we should not vote to approve.
NO mic: Convinced by the minority opinion; this is not frugal. Wait until full amoritazation is reached.
YES mic: A question of finances; our former employees are hoping for a small increase.
Q: Are pension benefits not part of collective bargaining?
CV: The are set by State law.
Requires Simple Majority Vote
Yes - 100
No - 30
Abstain - 8
We are adjourned until Monday, April 3, 2017, 7:30 PM
10:30 PM that's a wrap
- - -