Explanation of 2006 Town Meeting Articles

Written by Administrator
 | Friday, 18 January 2008 07:33

The following is an explanation of each warrant article including details not found in the warrant, such as specific dollar amounts where applicable. We have listed recommendations on specific articles by town boards where available. Town committees and boards were still in the process of voting on various town meeting articles when this supplement went to press. Therefore, the list of committees that voted to support or not support particular articles is not complete.


The following is an explanation of each warrant article including details not found in the warrant, such as specific dollar amounts where applicable. We have listed recommendations on specific articles by town boards where available. Town committees and boards were still in the process of voting on various town meeting articles when this supplement went to press. Therefore, the list of committees that voted to support or not support particular articles is not complete.

ARTICLE 1 is an annual article appointing non-elected officials. These include various committees appointed by the town moderator, the selectmen and the town manager. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 2 is annual article that allows the reading of reports by town officers and town committees and the acceptance of the annual town report. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

Article 3 is a routine article that sets the compensation of the following elected town officials: assessors, selectmen, town meeting moderator, and town clerk. The total amount requested is $72,040, an increase of $2,000. The majority of this amount is the town clerk's proposed salary for FY07 of $62,000, which is $2,000 more than FY06. Annual salaries for selectmen and assessors are $1,500 for board members and $2,000 for chairmen. The town moderator's salary is $40. None of these have increased for years. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 4 is the acceptance of state highway funding, or Chapter 90 money. This annual article authorizes selectmen to temporarily borrow money for highway maintenance and then accept the state reimbursement for this expense. The amount of state aid is $324,516. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 5 is the fiscal year 2007 operating budget for the town and schools totaling $53.9 million, a 4.2 percent increase over the current FY06 budget. This amount includes the capital budget, the water department budget, annual town meeting article requests and all routine town meeting articles and other expenses. Notable expenses include $1.7 million for general government (a 6.9 percent increase from FY06); $24.3 million for education, (1.3 percent increase); $5.4 million for public safety, (4.1 percent increase); $3.5 million for department of public works, (6.6 percent increase); $1.4 million for library and recreation, (3.2 percent increase); $428,320 for health and human services, (3.4 percent increase); $2.5 million for the water department, (.7 percent increase); $12.7 million for town and school shared costs including employee benefits, insurance and debt service, (10.2 percent increase). Revenues come from these sources: $37.3 million from the town's property tax levy (5.7 percent increase); $4.4 million in state revenue (9.6 percent increase); $8.1 million in local receipts (14.1 percent increase); and $434,516 in available funds (-36.7 percent decrease). Over $2.5 million in water revenue and $1.1 million in free cash are being applied to balance the budget. When the budget process began, free cash totaled $2.3 million. Going into town meeting, $1.2 million will be left in free cash. That is being reserved to fund settled union contracts.

ARTICLE 6 is the FY 2007 capital budget of $508,191. Some notable capital items include the following: $28,500 for replacing town computers; $35,000 to dump the Percy Walker pool water; $17,000 for pond maintenance; $2,000 to paint the senior center; $30,000 to reline a crematory retort; $9,000 to paint the DPW garage roof and Girl Scout House exterior trim and interior rooms; $11,000 for a Lands and Natural Resources SCAG mower; $5,000 for a transfer station roll-off container; $15,000 for an cemetery leaf vacuum; $6,175 for a cemetery mower; and $25,000 for a portable heavy duty lift for the highway dept. The water department's capital budget totals $300,000 and includes such things as $100,000 to replace water pipes that can emit the carcinogen PCE; $150,000 for system rehabilitation; and $50,000 to replace a 1997 utility truck. The capital budget also includes bonding 10 items that total $1.5 million. It includes $150,000 for an ambulance; $90,000 to refurbish the forest fire truck; $25,000 for a new Jaws of Life; $32,000 for a DPW hot patch trailer; $110,000 for a lands and natural resources municipal tractor; $80,000 for expanding the Mayflower cemetery; $50,000 for Powder Point bridge repairs; $65,000 for paving the expanded senior center parking lot; $650,000 for a water main to cross Route 3; and $250,000 for engineering for the Birch St. water tank.

ARTICLE 7 is the Duxbury Personnel Plan and Compensation Schedule used to give raises to town managers and non-school and non-union town employees. There is $100,000 in this article to fund merit raises. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 8 is an annual article for funding collective bargaining agreements from any of the nine unions in town, including police, firefighters, teachers, and school and government employees. It may be indefinitely postponed as there are no union contracts scheduled to be voted under this article, although the police dispatchers' union and Department of Public Works laborers union will be funded under Article 3 of the Special Town Meeting. Indefinite Postponement supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 9 requests $400,000 for the annual lease of Duxbury Beach from its owner, the non-profit, Duxbury Beach Reservation, Inc. The lease pays for beach management costs, which have been increasing in past years due to the storm damage repairs and the expanded endangered species protection program. Last year was the first year the lease was set at $400,000. It was previously $200,000. Beach sticker fees increased last year to compensate for doubling of the cost of the lease. The town has been leasing the beach since 1919. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 10 proposes funding the senior citizens tax relief program for $2,500. Since 1995, Duxbury has run a senior tax relief program, which allows up to ten seniors age 60 or older to volunteer their time and earn up to $500 off their real estate tax bills. Council on Aging administers this program. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 11 is an annual article asking voters to appropriate $10,000 for the July 4th parade and ceremony. This money is supplemented by the Fourth of July committee's fundraising efforts. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 12 proposes to reauthorize the Council on Aging revolving fund, which is used to hold fees for senior center programs. The money in this account is used to pay instructors or to buy supplies for these programs. This fund may not have more than $50,000 in it. It has no fiscal impact on the town's budget. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 13 is sponsored by the Government Study Committee and it clarifies the responsibilities of the personnel board by amending Duxbury's Personnel Plan. Before Duxbury had a town manager, the personnel board had a more operational function but now its role is more advisory. This updated version of the Personnel Plan lists the personnel board's main duties, which are to advise and review the administration of the personnel plan, review and advise on proposed changes in job descriptions, review other town's personnel plans, pay rates and personnel policies to maintain a fair and equitable personnel program, make recommendations on issues assigned to it by the town manager and assist in recruiting and screening town management applicants if requested. Other changes include a new section on the town manager's duties and a revised section on hiring new employees. Supported by board of selectmen.

Article 14 is also sponsored by the Government Study Committee and it amends the town's bylaws to revise the responsibilities of the Fiscal Advisory Committee. The committee's duties would change from performing annual reviews of upcoming capital expenses and borrowing to having it look toward creating a long term capital improvement plan as well as studying long-term debt. It would be responsible for annually reviewing financial projections and preparing recommendations regarding overall financial management. The fiscal advisory committee would also consult on matters concerning land purchases, new construction or major reconstruction of town facilities, larger maintenance or renovation projects, capital expenses over $100,000 and any issue for town meeting involving group insurance, town retirement, borrowing or the Stabilization fund. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 15 looks to change the date of the annual town meeting from the second Saturday in March to the first Saturday in May and change the town election from the fourth Saturday in March to the third Saturday in May. The Government Study Committee is recommending this change because town department heads need more time to formulate their budgets and the town's finance committee needs more time to review them. The first Saturday in May should not conflict with April school vacation, Easter or Passover. In reviewing 15 years of town reports, the committee found that attendance was not affected by the early spring or the late spring date of town meeting. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 16 requests voters amend the town's general bylaws to change the appointing authority of the personnel board from the town moderator to the selectmen. This article is sponsored by the government study committee. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 17 will be indefinitely postponed. Sponsored by the board of selectmen, this article proposes the mandatory transfer of town retirees from their current health insurance to a Medicare extension plan offered by the town. Of the 150 town retirees, approximately 50 retirees would be affected, as they are not currently on the Medicare extension plan called Medex. The majority of town retirees are already covered by Medex, although some have an HMO. After hearing from retirees who said they had not received enough notification and information on the issue, selectmen voted unanimously to support indefinite postponement of article 17 but agreed to explain the article to town meeting because they plan to pursue it at a later date. Selectmen favor the move as the town could save $50,000 in the first year and still provide the same level of health care to their retirees. The town's insurance consultant has said the two health insurance plans are comparable. Indefinite postponement supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 18 would establish a seven-member agricultural commission, the majority of whom would be residents engaged in farming. The agricultural commission's purpose will be to represent Duxbury's agricultural community and its interests. An advisory committee, its charge is to facilitate the pursuit of agriculture in Duxbury, promote agricultural-based economic opportunities for the town, preserve public and private agricultural lands and advise on farming issues for residents and town departments and committees. An eleven-member committee studied the idea and formed the town meeting article. There are 40 other towns in Massachusetts with agricultural commissions, including neighboring Carver, Plympton and Middleborough. Marshfield is also trying to establish an agricultural commission. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 19 addresses the definition of the word "substantial" in Section 609.2 of the Demolition of Historically Significant Buildings of the Duxbury Zoning Bylaw, also known as the Demolition Delay bylaw. The Planning Board is sponsoring the article for the Duxbury Historical Commission. The commission proposes that the word "substantial" be defined as "pulling down, destroying, removing, or razing more than 20 percent of the front and side elevations of the structure which are visible from a public way. Each elevation is to be calculated separately." The definition of demolition in the bylaw currently includes "substantial" but there is no clear definition of it. According the historical commission, clarification of the word "substantial" came at the request of the building department, which needed additional guidance when applying the demolition delay bylaw to older structures. The Commission studied how other towns defined "substantial" and worked with the town's planning director and town counsel to craft this definition. Town meeting approved the demolition delay bylaw as part of the zoning bylaw in 1998. It covers buildings 75 years or older. In administering the demolition delay bylaw, the Historical Commission must use criteria in the bylaw to determine if a structure is historically significant enough to warrant a public hearing and notify the community of its intended demolition. If the Commission determines the structure is significant, it can declare a 6-month delay in issuing the demolition permit in order to allow time for the structure to be saved. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 20 seeks a second change to the demolition bylaw, this time to Section 609.3 Demolition Delay Procedures. The planning board is sponsoring the article for the Duxbury Historical Commission. This amendment would change the delay period for issuing a demolition permit for a structure that comes under the demolition delay bylaw from six to 12 months. According to the Commission, a 12-month delay would give it more time to work with an owner to save an historic structure slated for demolition. Not supported by board of selectmen, 1-2. Supported by finance committee.

� ARTICLE 21 is a citizen's petition that asks voters to create a long-range planning committee and spend $15,000 to develop a master plan for the town-owned Percy Walker swimming pool on St. George St. Kathleen Coughlan of Orchard Lane is the article's sponsor. She is proposing a town moderator-appointed committee that would come up with a master plan of improvements for the building, which was given to the town by anonymous donors in 1976 and has since fallen into disrepair. The $15,000 would fund a building inspection/property condition assessment. Any extra money would pay for an architect to draw plans for the building. Approximately 110,000 people use the Percy Walker pool annually for swimming lessons, swim teams, aqua exercise groups, dive teams and general fitness swimming. The pool is also used by two special needs groups and scuba groups and is part of Duxbury fourth-grade students' physical education in March. Not supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 22 requests $80,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for the Community Preservation Committee's operating budget. The amount is double last year's budget. This account pays for the salaries of the board's administrator and consultants, as well as engineering fees and legal costs. The committee is asking for $20,000 for salaries and $60,000 for expenses. Any unused money will be put back into the CPC general account. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 23 looks to allocate 10 percent of the Community Preservation Act tax surcharge to accounts for each of its three purposes: open space, historical preservation and affordable housing. This year's allocation will be for $203,844 into each of the three accounts. Last year the amount was $192,000 for each purpose. Duxbury residents pay a three percent surcharge on their real estate taxes to fund projects recommended by the community preservation committee and approved by town meeting. For the past four years, the state has matched the town's funds 100 percent. The committee expects the 100 percent state match will continue for two more years. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 24 requests an additional $35,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to restore an historic fish ladder at Island Creek. The article is being co-sponsored by the Community Preservation Committee and the Duxbury Bay Management Commission. In 2004, voters approved $70,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for the project, which had been estimated to cost approximately $167,000. However, bids for the project came in over budget at $253,000. Since then, the project has been redesigned to lower costs. Now the projected total is $323,500 in construction costs not including in-kind services. Awarded grants total $100,000. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 25 seeks $30,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to restore 30 windows in the 17th century house that belonged to Pilgrim John Alden at 105 Alden St. It is sponsored by the Community Preservation Committee. The non-profit Alden Kindred of America, which owns the house, has requested the money to restore the windows back to their original condition. The house dates to the 1660s. It is estimated to take about two years to remove, restore and replace the windows. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 26 authorizes the transfer of $256,000 from the affordable housing CPC account to the general CPC account. This is to correct a mistake made when the Merlet property on Congress St. was bought in FY03 using funds from the wrong CPC account. Part of the land is being used for the construction of affordable housing by Habitat for Humanity and that portion should have been funded through the affordable housing account. This article might be indefinitely postponed.

ARTICLE 27 is a proposal by the Community Preservation Committee to buy two working cranberry bogs located near the Round Pond conservation area off Mayflower St. for $281,000 including conservation restrictions, stewardship and legal expenses. The Round Pond cranberry bog owned by Edgar W. Loring, Inc. contains 17.3 acres of bogs and wetlands. A bog off Mayflower Street owned by the O'Briens is 19.5 acres and is surrounded by town owned land and Conservation land. This consists of two parcels, one with over 16 and a half acres with a working cranberry bog and the other with an almost three-acre wetland. Proponents say that buying these parcels will benefit the town as they link land already used by residents for walking, horseback riding, biking, skiing and dog walking. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 28 is the Community Preservation Committee's request to purchase the 23.9 acre-Nudd property off East St. for $237,000 including stewardship, conservation restriction, legal expenses and irrigation equipment. Although the 13-acre cranberry bog on this property is not operational, the bog does have a new irrigation system and can be put into production. The Nudd property is adjacent to the Loring bog. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 29 seeks permission to allow the town accountant to transfer any funds left over from finished Community Preservation Act projects back into the CPA fund. There is $618 from the Swanson project and $382 from the town green irrigation project available for transfer. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 30 concerns a land swap on Congress Street. This article would give town officials the authority to begin negotiations for a land swap with an abutter to town-owned land on Congress St. because a corner of the neighbor's home and the entire driveway sit on town property. The lot lines would have to be redrawn with the town giving up a sliver of land to enlarge the abutter's lot to keep his house all on his land. In return, the abutter would trade a piece of his land to the town. The town moderator, town manager and town counsel have all recommended indefinitely postponing this article until more details of the swap can be provided. Indefinite postponement supported by finance committee

ARTICLE 31 seeks to create a one-year position of a housing consultant for $30,000 using Community Preservation Act funds. The housing consultant would be charged with creating a state-mandated affordable housing plan, to meet the state's requirement that 10 percent of housing in each town in the Commonwealth be "affordable." The article is being co-sponsored by the Local Housing Partnership and the Community Preservation Committee. Supported by the board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 32 proposes adopting an Affordable Housing Policy and is sponsored by the Local Housing Partnership. The policy is a statement of what the town will want to see regarding affordable homes. It recognizes Duxbury's reputation as a desirable residential community because of its open space and natural resources and it aims to maintain the town's current character while preserving and creating a mix of diverse types of housing. The policy defines affordable housing as low or moderate income housing or housing that Duxbury voters determine to be affordable housing. It also lists criteria for developing affordable housing such as preserving the predominately residential character of Duxbury, avoiding urban-scale projects, giving preference to projects that maximize the number of affordable units within a housing project, giving priority to Duxbury residents for affordable housing, and not overburdening existing utility systems or public facilities that serve the town. The policy also directs elected and appointed town officials who deal with planning and housing to work together to develop short and long term goals for implementing Duxbury's housing policy as well as recommend how the town should respond in complying with state laws like Chapter 40B. Selectmen and the Local Housing Partnership are charged with coordinating this process and presenting a yearly progress report during town meeting. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 33 is a request from the Conservation Commission to have the town re-authorize a revolving fund to contain money generated from the sale of Christmas trees on the town-owned West St. Christmas tree farm formerly known as the Jaycox tree farm. The amount in the revolving fund would not exceed $15,000. In its first year as the farm's owner, the town sold 152 trees last December for a total of $11,800. It costs the town $10,000 for a forester to spray and shear the trees and mow the property. The Conservation Administrator oversees the fund, primarily using it for supplies for the tree farm. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 34 is also a request from the Conservation Commission to approve adding $11,000 to the conservation fund. Once used by the Conservation Commission to purchase small pieces of land, the conservation fund is now used to manage 2,300 acres of conservation land and 750 acres of town land. Between $20,000 - $35,000 is needed to manage the town's land and maintain its trails, access ways, parking lots, fences, gates, locks, and signs. The fund is also used for surveying parcels, finding old boundaries and installing new ones to protect from abutter encroachment. Certain types of land such as the town's six hayfields, four cranberry bogs and other wetlands require special care. The conservation fund also meets special wildlife management issues, such as building and maintaining platforms for osprey nests and boxes for wood ducks and swallows. Protecting endangered species and eradicating invasive plant species are also covered by the fund. In the past, the fund has been used to hire summer interns who perform a variety of tasks from cutting back trails to building boardwalks over wetlands. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 35 is a request by the Planning Board for a Geographic Information System (GIS) revolving account. Duxbury's GIS system is a computer-based system used for the creation and maintenance of the town's geographic features, infrastructure data and other related land-based information. Under this proposal, users who request certain electronic data and/or plans from the town's GIS GIS revolving account to provide a dedicated revenue source to upgrade and maintain the GIS system. Currently, the system relies on one-time appropriations, miscellaneous operating funds and grant funding to support it. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee. system would pay a fee, and revenues from these fees would then be deposited into the town's

ARTICLE 36 would amend the Zoning Map by updating two sheets: the Publicly Owned Land District (POL) and the Waterfront Scenic Area (WSA). The planning board is sponsoring this article. The updated public lands map corrects some discrepancies from the original version and adds recent acquisitions since 2003. The POL layer was also overlaid on the Town's new Geographic Information System (GIS) base map that delineates all properties listed by assessors as of July 2005. The Waterfront Scenic Area map is the new district established by Town Meeting in 2004 relative to piers. Theses pages will be incorporated in the town's GIS system as well as posted on the town's web page. The article also amends the appropriate sections of the zoning bylaw that reference revision dates of the zoning maps. Supported by board of selectmen and finance committee.

ARTICLE 37 is a routine street acceptance. Voters will be asked to make Deer Run located off Birch Street a public way. Deer Run provides access to a nine-lot subdivision approved by the Planning Board. The Planning Board and the Department of Public Works are sponsoring the article. If approved, Board of selectmen will accept the layout and description, which will be recorded at the Registry of Deeds officially making Deer Run an accepted way. The road and drainage system, including a drainage basin located adjacent to Lake Shore Drive, will be maintained by the town. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 38 requests funds for a town-wide emergency notification system. The Nuclear Advisory Committee, the Duxbury Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), and the Duxbury fire department are sponsoring this article, which asks the town to accept grants or raise and appropriate money for a computerized rapid dialing telephone calling system that can be used by all town departments to notify the public quickly during an emergency or other important event. Selectmen voted to endorse article 38 if the words "raise and appropriate" were removed from the motion on town meeting floor. The article will instead ask voters to accept grants and transfer money from a 2005 nuclear advisory committee article containing $3,000 that was not used for protective masks and clothing for emergency workers since grants and donations paid for these items. The committee received quotes from three vendors that priced the telephone alert system between $16,600 to $83,000, with a mid-range of $26,000. They hope to use grants to fund the system. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 39 directs the town to negotiate with the owners of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth in order to gain more money to compensate Duxbury for its emergency planning. Sponsored by the Duxbury Nuclear Advisory Committee and the Duxbury Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), the article asks voters to agree that the operations of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and the storage of radioactive waste on this site have an economic impact on the town of Duxbury and, therefore, that the town deserves adequate compensation from Pilgrim's operator, Entergy. The article directs the town to negotiate with Entergy and "examine legislative measures and all other means to assure proper compensation." Duxbury Fire Chief Kevin Nord who heads DEMA is in favor of this article. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 40 asks voters to oppose the federal Nuclear Regulator Agency's policy of reducing the size of the area needing evacuation when there is a "general emergency" with a release of radioactive material at the Pilgrim nuclear power station in Plymouth. Sponsored by the Nuclear Advisory Committee, the article states that the town of Duxbury opposes the NRC's and Pilgrim's operator Entergy's new policy of evacuating two miles around and five miles downwind during a general emergency because it recognizes that the impact from a nuclear release would spread far greater than these distances. Further, the article states that Entergy should keep the current 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone and even expand it. Also, the article states the "concept of downwind is not appropriate in a coastal community where wind directions are variable." This article would have the town take a stand and then notify the federal, state and local agencies and communities involved in emergency planning for Pilgrim. Supported by board of selectmen.

ARTICLE 41 is a routine article to pay any unpaid bills from the previous fiscal year but it will probably be indefinitely postponed, because these bills will be paid in Article 4 of the special town meeting.

ARTICLE 42 will be indefinitely postponed. It is an annual article that asks town meeting to add money from the town's free cash account to its savings account, the Stabilization Fund. This fund is the town's rainy day account, to be used for unforeseen circumstances. However, the town has been dipping into it in past years and using the money to help balance the town's operating budget. Town Manager Richard MacDonald is not using any money from the Stabilization fund for the operating budget this year as he has been advised by bond rating agencies that the town must preserve its reserves to maintain a favorable bond rating. There will be no action on this article because there is no deposit available. This is the sixth consecutive year that no funds are being added to the account. The last deposit of $100,000 was made in 2000.

ARTICLE 43 is a routine article that asks voters to allow the board of assessors to use free cash to reduce the tax levy. The specific amount of free cash used is determined at the very end of town meeting.