June 18, 2021
Its Annual Town Meeting Time - By Gregory T. Federspiel
On Monday, June 21st, we gather for the Annual Town Meeting. We will once again be outside on the athletic field at the Middle High School with COVID protocols in place. The meeting starts at 6:30PM. Please plan on arriving early so that we can get everyone seated and ready for a prompt start.
The Meeting can be broken out into three segments. Up first will be the Consent Agenda. The Consent Agenda is designed to take care of articles on the warrant that typically pass with out debate or questions. The Moderator presents the articles as a “package”. Assuming no one objects, the articles are approved in one vote. The Consent Agenda, which will be provided as a handout at the meeting, will contain Articles 1 (Approval of the Annual Town Report) Article 2 (Agree not to pay Selectmen or the Moderator), Article 6, (Pay two small bills left over from the last fiscal year) Article 9 (Approve the annual contribution to the Town’s post retirement health insurance fund (OPEB)), and Article 10, (Approve the amount for the annual revolving fund account for Park and Recreation programs – fees collected to pay for the programs).
The second part of the meeting will deal with various budgets. Article 3 is the budget request from the Essex Technical and Agricultural School. Manchester sends 11 students to the regional vocational school.
Article 4 is the Town Operating budget for the Fiscal Year that begins July 1. The detailed, line- item expenditures proposed for FY22 can be found in the Finance Committee Report that has been delivered to each household as well on on-line. The proposed budget calls for a 2.4% increase in total expenditures for next year.
Article 5 contains the proposed capital expenses for FY22. The list of proposed project and equipment purchases also can be found in the Finance Committee’s Report where you can also fine information on our capital planning and proposals for the next five years.
Under Article 7, voters will be asked to approve the FY22 budget for operating the School District. Both the District’s operating and capital budgets will be presented and voted on. The District distributed a pamphlet regarding their budget along with the Town’s Annual Report and Finance Committee Report.
Article 8 seeks voter approval for the proposed Community Preservation projects as previously reviewed.
All told, if voters approve the budgets as presented, next year’s tax rate is slated to increase by 1.5%. This is up from this year’s 0% increase but below the more typical 2.5% increase.
The last set of articles deal with special questions put before voters.
In Article 11, voters are asked to grant the Selectmen the authority to allow Hamilton to abandon the stretch of Chebacco Road that passes through conservation land owned by Manchester as well as an unused right of way and create a new right of way for Hamilton to build a new paved road further away from Gravely Pond, one of the Town’s drinking supply reservoirs.
Articles 12, 13, and 14 are citizen petition articles that were generated in response to the recently proposed 40B project on Upper School Street. Article 12 asks voters to express their opposition to the project and instead support alternative affordable housing efforts. Article 13 asks voters to further regulate blasting. Article 14 asks voters to require larger projects to have a minimum of 2 access roads.
Article 15 and 16 are also citizen petition articles with 15 asking voters to advise the Selectmen to keep our public dispatch services in-house while Article 16 asks voters to postpone any votes on amending the Town’s zoning by-laws. (None are proposed at this time thus this article may be passed over.)
We operate under an open town meeting form of government. This means all registered voters serve as our legislative body determining our budgets and bylaws. To perform your legislative duties to the Town you need to attend Town Meeting! I look forward to seeing you Monday evening and assisting in making the decisions necessary for the Town to move forward.