Town Administrator Charlie Seelig said during the Tuesday, May 26 Board of Selectmen meeting that he has reviewed the information from the state in order to do a 1/12 budget for fiscal year 2021. Seelig said that his suggestion to go to a 1/12 budget is due to the state budget not being released yet as well as safety concerns over holding town meeting. “Holding large meetings in enclosed spaces is not a good idea right now,” Seelig explained. In order to postpone the June 15 town meeting and do the 1/12 budget, the town moderator would need to decide to recess the meeting for up to 30 days. Seelig said that he was suggesting that the meeting get recessed to July 11 and that it potentially be held outdoors. The selectmen will vote to approve Seelig’s recommendation at their next meeting. The second step required to do a 1/12 budget is the Finance Committee’s recommendation.
The town election is still scheduled for June 20. Seelig and the town clerk have written instructions on how to vote in person or by mail. If voting in person, there will be social distancing and hygiene protocols in place.
Cranberry Drive Sidewalk
A handful of Cranberry Dr. residents attended the meeting Tuesday to advocate for a sidewalk where there is currently only a grassy shoulder. Seelig said that the current estimate to do the work is $134,000 up from the previous estimate of $114,000. Selectman Chair Troy Garron asked if there were any incidents involving people getting injured resulting from the lack of a sidewalk. Seelig said no such incidences had occurred. Seelig suggested having the engineering work done at a cost of approximately $14,000. The cost would likely need to come from the Highway Department’s Chapter 90 funds.
Garron said he empathized with residents on that road but asked if the town was really in a position to do the work right now. Selectman Tom Millias concurred saying, “In a perfect world, I would be all for it.” Selectman Gordon Andrews said, “I understand the need, but not sure if that is the best use of the money right now.” He further said that he would prioritize items like crosswalks and streetlights over sidewalks.
Cranberry Drive resident Ryan Morgan inquired if the town had a 5-year plan of potential capital expenses, a sort of priority list. Seelig said that there were two lists, the first being capital projects that are approved at town meeting. Seelig said those projects are usually not roadwork, but rather expenses such as purchasing town vehicles. Highway Surveyor Steve Hayward has a separate list because he has his own sources of funding including Chapter 90 funds. Hayward said, “My priority is the roads right now; the roads are falling apart, and I think that is a little bit more important.” He also stressed that he doesn’t yet know how much he will be getting from Chapter 90.
Library Director and Cranberry Drive resident Jean Gallant asked Seelig and the selectman how concerned residents might go about getting their projects added to the priority list should money come available. A third Cranberry Drive resident, who said he takes his small children on that road daily, jumped in saying he was upset that the focus was on the money. He pointed out that the neighborhood was thirty years old and asked how it was possible that in thirty years, the money has never been allotted to the project. Garron told the residents that they would need to gather 10 signatures from registered voters in order to bring the issue to town meeting. While it is too late for this year, it would be possible to do so for next year’s town meeting. The selectmen voted to table the issue for now.
Seelig and the Board agreed that starting with the pay period beginning June 7, town employees will be paid only for the work that they do. If available and if they wish, employees for whom work still cannot be found can supplement with sick leave, personal leave, or vacation time.
Regarding reopening, Seelig said that some departments might be able to continue working remotely while others may want to get employees back into the buildings. Measures will be taken to protect those in the buildings including additional signage, sanitizer stations, wipes and gloves, and potentially new filtering units in the HVAC units. In addition, the town will likely require individuals to complete a checklist including requirements such as not having a fever or living with someone with COVID. Seelig said he would be scheduling a Zoom meeting with department heads as well as employees to go over the protocols surrounding reopening.
Silver Lake Graduation
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) issued guidelines for holding outdoor graduation ceremonies later this summer. As of right now, Silver Lake is planning to hold a modified ceremony on August 7 at 6 p.m.
Seelig said that everything went well at the Recycling Center soft opening on May 20.
A presentation was held last Thursday on what will and will not be eligible for funds received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). Seelig said, however, that he was still left with many questions. Unlike most of the state, Plymouth County has elected to distribute the funds to municipalities themselves rather than letting the state handle the distribution.
What Seelig described as a “low-key observance” took place in Halifax on Memorial Day complete with a bagpiper. “I thought it was very nicely done by the VFW,” Seelig said.
Bud’s Goods and Provisions submitted their application for an outdoor marijuana cultivation facility. The Board of Selectmen have sixty days to reply to it. Seelig said the vote would be put on the agenda for June 9.
The Boy Scout bottle drive is scheduled for July 11. Assuming the event takes place, it will be at the town hall green as has been done in the past.
Seelig said that former town moderator T. P. Elliot-Smith passed away. The selectmen and all on Tuesday’s call, held a moment of silence to honor the work that he did for the town.