Tax Classification Hearing
The Plympton Board of Selectmen met remotely Dec. 20, beginning their meeting with a tax classification hearing in conjunction with the Board of Assessors. Chair of the Assessors Ethan Stiles led the hearing. Mass General Law requires that all municipalities hold a hearing to decide how to tax all real properties from the following four categories – residential, open space, commercial, and industrial. The Selectmen will vote whether to charge a minimum residential factor determining a tax rate shift or single tax rate. Stiles said the Board of Assessors was recommending that the Selectmen select a factor of “1” thereby adopting a single tax rate for all classes of properties for Fiscal Year 2022, as was done in previous years. No members of the public wished to speak during the hearing. Selectmen voted the single tax class as recommended by the Assessors.
Town Seal Contest
Nathaniel Sides spoke on behalf of the Cultural Council about a design contest for a town seal. “Cultural Council has funds that are available to us to use for a community initiative for promotion of arts and culture in the town. One of the ideas that we had bounced around… was the possibility of sponsoring a contest for the purpose of coming up with some suggestions for a town seal,” Sides explained. He said that residents have expressed discontent with the town’s lack of a seal. Sides noted that there wouldn’t be any expense to the town as they would be utilizing State funds. The contest would be open to professionals and amateurs alike. Selectman Mark Russo said his only concern was who or what would be the deciding authority. Sides said the authority to decide whether to use the winning design would ultimately rest with the Selectmen.
A waiver would likely need to accompany each design submission acknowledging that the designer would not have a monetary claim to the design. “I’m excited about this project,” Russo said.
Joy said her only request would be that they include the original in the options as there may be people who prefer that over the submissions. The Selectmen gave Sides their approval to move forward with the contest.
Treasurer/Collector Christine Kelly appeared before the Selectmen to ask them to vote to adopt the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) plan to replace social security for part-time, temporary, and on-call employees. Kelly said it would be a cost savings for the town. Kelly said it was likely to affect 36 employees though she acknowledged that the number is likely to fluctuate. Town Administrator Liz Dennehy and Chair of the Finance Committee Nathaniel Sides both gave their support for the measure. The Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the OBRA plan which would take effect on January 26, 2022.
Area 58 Discussion
The Selectmen next discussed Area 58. “I’ve been critical of the operation of Area 58 in the sense of it seems that things that we have wanted to take forward, haven’t happened,” Selectman John Traynor said. Traynor listed the TV channel being broadcast with sound but no picture as well as the meetings not getting posted to the Area 58 website citing problems with their service. Traynor said he looked into other providers including PAC TV who service Pembroke, Kingston, Duxbury, and Plymouth. “Duxbury, as I understand it, currently have all three. They broadcast it on a channel live, they have Zoom conferencing availability, and they have the public available to come to the meeting,” Traynor said. Russo commented on the recent glitches including some meetings that were not posted in a timely manner calling it “incredibly frustrating.” Russo said after speaking with Area 58, a new procedure will be in place that should aid in ensuring that meetings are posted within 48 hours. He said that plans to broadcast live are also in the works. He further said that in general, the Selectmen of the three towns are in favor of continuing with Area 58. The Selectmen agreed to have Area 58 come speak with them about some of the changes that they wish to see.
License Renewals and Appointments
The Selectmen voted through a number of various licenses including liquor and scrap metal. They also voted on several appointments. They included Tom Millias and Kathleen Cannizzo as Co- Zoning Enforcement Officers through June 30, 2022, John Canizzo Jr. as Special Police Officer through June 30, 2022, Geraldine Cellini to the Council on Aging through June 30, 2022, and Eliana Mullens and Patricia Gillespie to the Cultural Council both through December 20, 2024.
Town Administrator’s Update
Dennehy provided Selectmen with a Town Administrator’s update. Dennehy said that they were holding steady at over 12 percent for COVID cases. “So that’s not the best news,” Dennehy said. She also provided an update on the remediation work that needs to be completed at the Old Townhouse due to a mold problem. The estimate is $7,808. The Selectmen voted to authorize the work. Dennehy also acknowledged Sunrise Gardens who generously donated the wreaths for the holiday festivities in town including the Santa run.
Traynor led off the raves. He said his wife worked with Cathy Drinan at the school and spoke very highly of her as have so many others. “She was certainly a force and obviously well loved,” he said of Drinan who passed away as a result of a house fire in December. “I do have a couple of people who have come forward and said they would like me to give a rave,” Traynor told his fellow Selectmen. He said that Jim Mustacaros wanted to acknowledge former Council on Aging member Michelle Llanes who worked diligently to find an electric wheelchair for a resident in need. The resident has since passed away and the chair is now being offered back to the town. Colleen Thompson said she had a request from a resident in town who was looking to have the town supply a truck to take away their spoiled food and other debris following a recent power outage. Highway Superintendent Rob Firlotte said that it wouldn’t be possible but he and Ben Sarro went down with their own trucks and brought it all down to the transfer station. He also thanked Ken Thompson who recently resigned from his role as Zoning Enforcement Officer.
Russo said, “Cathy Drinan was unbelievably special.” He also agreed about Thompson. “My main rave is kind of the opportunity of the holiday season. Obviously, a time to count blessings and a time of sharing and also a time to kind of slow down and rest a little bit and using that opportunity to reconnect and soften a little,” Russo explained.
Of Drinan, Joy said, “I just found her to be really just a kind soul and really dedicated to the town.” She also wished for people to have some peace and joy this holiday season.