Tuesday nights meeting of the Kingston Board of Selectmen, April 11, at the Kingston Town House, brought the board together to decide which articles they will recommend at the Annual Town Meeting next week, Saturday, April 29.
Before the regular business of the meeting, Town Administrator Keith Hickey presented retiring treasurer Carl L. Pike a plaque honoring his service to Kingston and commented “I’ve had the opportunity to work with Carl now for just over a couple of years and have found him to be a breath of fresh air, somebody who I can go to with a question and not worry about getting the answer I want to hear but giving me the answer I need to hear. Carl has been a great member of our team and has been an active member of the community volunteering on a number of boards over the years.” Applause and a standing ovation followed.
Selectman Chairman Kimberley Emberg presented a plaque to outgoing selectman Jessica Kramer. Emberg spoke to her service: “You ask questions that make me think about things in a different way and personally I have very much enjoyed being on this board with you and I can’t count the number of contributions you’ve made and the positive impact you’ve had on the town of Kingtson.” Kramer was also treated to applause and a standing ovation.
In a joint meeting with Selectmen, the Capital Planning Committee and the Finance Committee, the three boards and committees reviewed the list of projects they will support at Town Meeting.
1. $45,000 for the replacement of the flooring in the Town House, the Council on Aging and the Public Library.
2. $71,880 to acquire a pickup truck for the Sewage Dept, that will also help the higway with snow removal in the winter, and other uses.
3. $112,000 to replace turnout coats for the fire department. The coats had PFAFs which are known carcinogens and the replacement products will not.
4. $50,000 for engineering of a shared path along Lake St. that will go from the high school to the intersection of Grove St. The project itself is grant-funded over the course of two years.
5. $133,843 replacement of two Police Interceptor vehicles
6. $50,000 for engineering for various traffic safety improvements around the town. “We probably have $75 million in road work that needs to be done in order to bring it up to the condition that people would like to see . This will help us prioritize the road improvements around the town.
7. $320,100 to replace a dump truck with plow and sander for the Streets and Parks Dept.
8. $500,000 for the means to do a number of road and sidewalk improvements around the town.
The Capital Planning Committee voted these projects unanimously to bring to town meeting.
Proposed lease payments:
9. $87,770 to re-mount and refurbish ambulance numbers 1 and 2 – the first payment of five years.
10. $205,910 for the third-year payment of the seven-year lease of the purchased ladder truck.
11. Second-year payment of a five-year lease $155,307 for the replacement of engine 1.
12. Fifth year of a seven-year lease $18,995 for acquisition of a backhoe
13. $47,730 second year of a five-year lease on the replacement of a 1995 Mac Truck
14. $51,270 second-year on a five-year for the replacement of a dump truck.
These were unanimously voted to bring to town meeting.
The Capital Planning Committee turned down a number of requests by the school department as they were not capital projects according to the definition, including repairs to ceilings and walls in the middle school, material for playground surfacing, and $50,000 for repairs to the Middle School roof. Hickey agreed saying the items were maintenance items, not capital projects.
Hickey told the group that the two roofs, Intermediate School and Elementary School both need to be replaced. He advised that fixing the roof on the Middle School so that it can wait until the town can bid the replacement of the two roofs together, saving the town moneuy on a larger project.
The Main Street water main project was moved for favorable action with funding of $1.69 million from several sources. The sum was moved and moved to favorable action.
On a vote of 3 to 2,l the Financew Committee voted to approve Article 9 for the construction of new wasteater leaching fields at a cost of $1.6 million. Chairman os the Sewer Commission Elaine A Fiore spoke to the article that the town is in line potentially for an SRF – State Revolving Fund – in the sum of $11,622, and also have an earmark and bond bill for $71 million toward construction of new leaching fields. She selectmen that she should hear whether the funds have been approved by mid-July. If the are not approved, then the project would not go forward. Her project, she said, was “shovel ready”. “Our leaching fields are 20 years old. n This project is pro-active so that new leaching fields will be4 ready for use when the existing fields age out.
Chairman Emberg asked if sewer lines go by a house are they required to be connected? Fiori answered that Yes, it must be connected. “Everybody is connected. There isn’t a choice.
Kingston has had to turn down several housing developments because the sewerage capacity isn’t available, and Selectman Kramer asked if providing this additional sewerage capacity will encourage more housing. Fiori said that they want to connect existing homes tin order to mitigate the nitrogen effluent into Plymouth Bay, not to encourage new construction. Fiori pointed out that the new leaching fields would be for backup of the systems now in place that are 20 years old. She couldn’t guarantee that the system won’t fail tomorrow or in five years.
The plan, she continued, is to build out the Davis property to hold all four tanks. and the Country Club and Landfill properties will become backup leaching fields.
The nitrogen level is going to be prevalent in Kingston in the next few years. We want to pick up more houses on the sewerage lines to help alleviate that problem. The new leaching field will help alleviate the problem. We’ve been planning for this for a long time. It’s just that funding is available now, especially to help keep the additional nitrogen out of Plymouth “Bay. The vote was 3 to 2 in the affirmative.
The Capital Planning Committee and the Finance Committee adjourned at 6:33 and 6:30 respectively.
Selectmen then approved the transfer of an aquaculture license from lease 1 to lease 3. John Wheble spoke to his request saying that the swap would make it easier for him, even though the new license area was a bit smaller. Shellfish Constable Joe Zlogar, Jr., stepped to the mic in support of the swap. Wheble has 60 days to vacate his current lease and return it to the town. Zlogar said there is a waiting list for people who want an aquaculture license and would have no trouble finding a replacement.
ARPA funds requests
Hickey told selectmen he has two requests for ARPA funds, the first being a request from the school committee to fund the replacement of one of the HVAC rooftop units at the high school Rather than put it on the town meeting warrant, if ARPA funds could be used, the town could then deduct the $188,175 from their Silver Lake assessment.
The second request was from the Water Dept. to help defray costs of replacing the Main St. water main. They have previously received approval for $419,260 and are seeking an additional $503,349 of AROA funds making the total ARPA contribution for the project $922,609. The Water Dept. has other unexpended warrant articles from previous years that will make up the balance without having to borrow, Hickey told the board. There are sufficient funds left in ARPA, leaving just under a million dollars if the board approves these, available for any potential future needs. We have about a year and a half left to expend these funds. Kingston was awarded about $4 million in ARPA funds.
School budget shortfall
Jeanne M. Coleman, Chairman of the Kingston School Committee, asked selectmen to consider a request to withdraw funds from the Town of Kingston Special Education Reserve Account, that has a balance of $218,334, to help fund a budget shortfall of $700,000 caused by unforseen out-of-district tuitions and enrollment.
Coleman told the board that they were anticipating an additional $213,000 in extraordinary relief to help cover the shortfall. The board approved the request.
Rent Control Board
Selectman Donald Alcombright brought up the warrant article that would cede the authority of the Rent Control Board to the Board of Selectmen the authority to act in its stead. Town Administrator Hickey told selectmen that dealing with the current board has been challenging, through no fault of anyone, just that it was very difficult to get the town’s work Done in a timely basis.
Chairman Joseph F. Casna, Jr., told selectmen he hadn’t been aware that two of his board members had not renewed their terms of service and he couldn’t then get a quorum to meet. He then said the situation was solved when Selectman Donald Alcombright, a former member of the board, stepped up to fill one of the vacancies they were “back in business”. “The Rent Control Board has been in existence for as long as I can remember … it’s a great resource for tenants … and the people who live in the pre-manuafactured home communities, and … I think it speaks to the heart of the town. … We’re a non-political thing, it doesn’t cost the town a penny, They can come to us if there’s a dispute over fees or rents or anything along those lines.” Casna continued that he had spoken with some of the residents who have been actively in volved in this for years, and they said that they would like to see it continue as well. “So I don’t see the downside.”
Town Administrator Hickey spoke up, “No disrespect to the committee, … it took weeks to get a signature and I understand all the ins and outs and this guy resigned and that person resigned and we don’t understand. We could not do business and what we did, in my humble opinion, was harm the person who was looking for assistance because it took weeks to get it. When, if the board of selectmen had the authority to act, it would have been done as early as two weeks from the time they requested it.”
Casna said, “It came out exactly the way they wanted it to come out. The way it should have come out.” HIckey retorted, “It should have come out in January, not March.”
The board voted 3-2 to remove the article from the town meeting warrant and keep the Rent Control Board as is.
Joanne Cullen, Chairman of the Community Preservation Committee, told selectmen her committee had a difficult year this year because the Blackstone Swamp project last year left our funds somewhat depleted.” They grant money they got can’t be used until the next fiscal year. CPC funds must be used in three specific areas: Affordable Housing, Historic Preservation, and Open Space and Recreation. It was difficult to fund some projects when the funds weren’t available to spend until next fiscal year.
She did say that her committee voted to give the Affordable Housing portion of the CPC funding to the stewardship of the Kingston Affordable Housing Committee as they had no projects pending because they have no funds to begin them. Now they have the means to begin.
Regarding the equipment purchase projects, numbers 1-11 of Articles 20-24, Hickey said there is sufficient free cash to fund all of them to get these projects done now. If the town waits, the cost will only be higher. The board voted unanimously in favor.
Bob Ketter, Chairman of the Veterans’ Memorial Committee asked selectmen to help fund the veteran’s memorial which will be a granite structure to be placed on the front lawn of the Town House.
Kingston has the highest percentage of veterans or veteran families in the country, other than those with military bases. “We really want to get started,” he said. Selectmen voted 4-0, with one abstaining, to approve the warrant article asking the town for $187,000 from free cash.
Article 24 would ask the consolidation and change for the elected Treasurer and Tax Collector positions to be consolidated into one Treasurer/Collector position that would be appointed by the Board of Selectmen. Selectmen voted to support the article 4-0 with Selectman Kramer recusing herself from the vote.
Selectmen heard Patrick and Caitlin Sullivan of 16 Cedar St., ask Selectmen to support their Citizen’s Petition that asks for the town to accept Cedar St. as a public way. The couple were advised that acceptance of roads needs a specific procedure, beginning with the Planning Board, and submitting a survey of the road to be considered. The couple expressed concern that the drainage problems that are crumbling the asphalt and creating a pond in the road by their house will prevent emergency vehicles access to the area as it did last season.
Selectmen were asked to support the placement of two stop signs near the Jones River to prevent speeding vehicles from hitting the old stone bridge and disrupting the neighborhood. Hickey told selectmen that he had contacted Old Colony Planning Council to study the traffic there and selectmen would look at the data. Selectmen agreed they could not support the stop signs without more data.
Country Club Way
David Fuller, 233 Country Club Way, asked selectmen to fund an as-built survey for his street and acceptance of it as a Kingston public way.. Fuller pointed out that there are funds left in the contractor performance bond that would fund the survey, but not enough to finish the street work. Town Counsel advised him that the selectmen actually have control of those funds and they are the ones to ask, not Town Meeting.
Fuller agreed he would ask the town meeting to pass over his Citizen’s Petition article.