approve $850,000 water main project,
give Bay Path a no vote
After a half-hour delay, the Dudley Town Meeting moved forward at a fairly sharp pace led by Town Moderator Patrick Flynn. With well over 100 voters present, articles passed included acceptance of revolving funds for multiple boards; transfers for Highway, Sewer Commission, Police Department, Veterans Services, and the Fire Station’s grant account.
Parents and Dudley-Charlton School Committee members voiced their strong opposition to school budget cuts when several individuals rose and spoke passionately about the admirable qualities of the Dudley school system, their reasons for moving to the Town, and the excellence of the school academics. Their comments were met with voters’ loud applause, which Town Moderator Flynn sought to diffuse in keeping with Town Meeting rules. Selectman Paul Joseph presented a 2 ½% increase over last year’s school budget but a voter recommended an amendment which was seconded by another audience member/voter and then passed with a 3.38% school budget increase, thereby approving the proposed FY 2013 Dudley-Charlton Regional School District budget in the amount of $6,437,283. Due to voters’ school budget override, it was noted that additional budget cuts will now have to be made in Fire Dept and EMS night-time coverage, general highway and library expenses, municipal services such as streetlight turn-offs, Veterans’ Memorial Day Flag program elimination, and not filling the position of Town Collector.
The Highway Department’s $5,600 request for upgrading two-way radios to comply with FCC mandatory narrow banding requirements was passed over for further information.
Jay Spahl of the Water Commission then presented details on the need for constructing and installing a water main on Dudley-Oxford Road from Center Road to Jaybee Avene. Mr. Spahl clarified the need for replacing the older mains with an $850,000 ten-year note that will be the funding source. Water users would pay for the note. Voters approved and passed the article. Mr. Spahl also justified the purchase of a new backhoe due to the great amount of usage hours on the older model andindicated the funding for the backhoe would come from retained earnings. Voters approved the article.
William Fyffe, a member of the Library Trustees, was then asked to speak about the article regarding the Library Building Needs Committee and the procedure for dissolution of the Committee as their job was complete. After Mr. Fyffe’s explanation, the dissolution measure was accepted and passed.
Article 16 then came into play concerning the Bay Path Regional High School’s addition/renovation project. The Finance, Appropriation, and Advisory Committee had not recommended Dudley’s share of the passage of the $73,722,405 project. Several selectmen spoke in favor of the Bay Path project due to the State’s high reimbursement percentage. After a member of the Bay Path School Committee stood and explained the project’s necessity and its debt exclusion status, newly-elected selectman John Marsi rose and further explained the positive aspects of a debt exclusion, which included the fact that this was not a tax increase and how the exclusion was a set number of payments that ended on a set date.
Voters passed over the article at this point, erroneously believing the debt exclusion could now be brought up at a later date. Further along in the meeting, however, Selectman Joseph took the podium and explained that he had just consulted with Town Counsel and learned that the aforementioned vote was unqualified to allow future consideration of the Bay Path project. He explained to the voters that they now had to rescind their earlier vote, vote again on the original article presented, and, if agreeable, the voters should consider a “no” vote as that would then allow the article to come before them again at a later date. Voters then took the recommended action voting “no.”
Voters next approved a by-law change for the annual Town election date. The new date would be the first Monday following the second Saturday of June thereby allowing a newly-elected Selectperson to have a full-year’s experience with the Town budget before voting on line items, etc.
A 50-foot rule by-law change was also approved, disallowing any campaigning materials to be disseminated within any area of buildings and/or doors where meetings were to be held for Town purposes.
A criminal history check authorization article was passed for peddler, alcohol beverage, public conveyance, second-hand dealer, pawn dealer, hackney drivers, and ice cream truck vendors licenses, essentially allowing Dudley to obtain background CORI-check information from anywhere in the U.S. Sex offender residency by-law changes were also approved, bringing Dudley in line with other cities and towns in the state.
Additional zoning by-laws adopted included renewable energy resources and large-scale solar photovoltaics. Lastly, a stabilization fund appropriation was passed over for more information as recommended by the FAA.