May 13 2013 Sutton Massachusetts Town Meeting
Here is the warrant for this spring 2013 town meeting:
Spring 2013 Sutton Mass Town Meeting Warrant
Here are the three accompanying documents:
Town Administrator Letter
2013 Sutton Budget
2013 Sutton Capital Plan
The meeting was at 7:30pm in the Simonian center.
Article 1 - receive the reports - no discussion, passed
The moderator appointed a deputy moderator in here.
Article 2 - cemetery commissioners - no discussion, passed
Article 3 - board of health - no discussion, passed
Article 4 - sewer department - no discussion, passed
$214761 salary, $478881 operations, for $693642 total - all paid by user fees.
Article 5 - Transfer station - no discussion, passed
$39798 salary, $97275 operations, for $137073 total - all paid by user fees.
Article 6 - main budget
While the previous ones just had a few numbers recited which I was able to write down, this one had a TON of numbers. Nearly everyone in the room was flipping through the minutes trying to figure out if these were written down somewhere. I have written the town administrator to ask if in the future they could include the numbers in with the article. Otherwise they don't show up anywhere "on record" - not in the initial warrant, not in the final official minutes. It would seem if we have a record of voting on numbers that are recited to us, that the numbers should be in the official record somewhere. In any case, we had a resident get up and let us know that the school in the past 3 years had to eliminate 20 professional positions, so the budget is tight. A resident got up to discuss that the official town report needs to be better managed - that it's full of errors, that there's no clear entry of who is responsible for it, and that not all money is accounted for. It was explained that the Town Clerk is responsible for compiling it. The article was passed unanimously.
Article 7 - equipment for capital projects. There were all sorts of things verbally explained here. $16k for GPSs. $20k for asbestos. $50k for school safety. But again it left us busily scribbling down all these numbers, without them being listed right with the article. So the total was $646,000. There was an attachment for general fund, so you could track down the numbers if you page-flipped - but in that spreadsheet it says everything comes from the general fund. In the talk they said they would borrow $246,000. So that's confusing. No discussion, unanimous vote.
Article 8 - $80k to handle school layoffs. No discussion, unanimous.
Article 9 - $100k for OPEB account, no discussion, unanimous.
Article 10 - $70k free cash to general stabilization. No discussion, unanimous.
Article 11 - $30k money for highway department, contractual obligation. No discussion, unanimous.
Article 12 - finally! The article actually lists the number values and how it will be used! This should be done with EVERY article. It's funding various accounts like cable access and public board of healthy. I love how this article was laid out. No discussion, unanimous.
Article 13 - buying 2013 Ford F-350 with plow frame for sewer department for $36,928 for plowing and such. It's from the Sewer Fund. The price seems fairly reasonable. No discussion, unanimous.
Article 14 - spending $73,900 from sewer fund to put on solar panels at sewer facility. Someone asked who would pay for this - it was explained that the sewer fund already had the money to pay for it, and it would pay itself back in 10 years and then would earn money for the sewer station (i.e. they'd not pay as large electric bills). Passed.
Article 15 - $5000 free cash to snow account. No discussion, unanimous.
Article 16 - This one went through smoothly, but it should be noted that it ties to the next article which was heavily discussed. Here the town was giving $5000 from the boat excise fund to both Singletary and Manchaug. The suggestion of the Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee was that it was shared equally, but the article itself simply says both should get some money. This was passed without any discussion and unanimous.
Article 17 - this then kept us busy for quite a while. Here's the gist. Lake Singletary is 350 acres and has 108 Sutton houses on it. Manchaug only has 21 Sutton houses on it. Lake Singletary also has our town beach. The Lake Singletary association has put enormous work into keeping the lake free of algae and such. They work hard to get matching grants and funds. In the past 5 years they've invested $145,000 in water quality issues. So they are the "pool cleaner" doing all of this for our public waters and our public beach area. They felt they had been getting $5000 a year from the town to help with these efforts. The town reps felt they were only getting $5000 every two years, as the town itself only gets $6000 every two years from the boat excise tax funds which they then use to give to the Lake Singletary group.
I went by the library to look up the past town reports and see. Here is what I found regarding the Singletary group.
May 9 2011 – no mention of Singletary
May 10 2010 – article 17, gave Lake Singletary group $5000 from excise tax
May 11 2009 – no mention
May 12 2008 – article 4 gives $5000 for algae but doesn't say to whom
My 14 2007 – no mention
May 8 2006 – no mention
May 9 2005 – article 10 gives $5000 to the Lake Singletary group by name
2004’s book is missing entirely. I’m asking the town clerk about that.
May 12 2003 – no mention
May 13 2002 – no mention
May 14 2001 – article 12 gives $1406 to Lake Singletary group then separately $4759 in matching funds
So it does seem they were getting money only every 2-3 years, when money became available. The amendment ended up being modified to ask for the remaining $1000 left in the boat excise fund, with the hope that the previous article would then be divvied up not equally but with $1000 for Manchaug and $4000 for Lake Singletary to keep their funding at least stationary. This had to go to a hand vote because it was contentious, and in the end 15 were against out of 69 voting. So it passed.
And that was it!
2009 Sutton MA Town Meetings - main page
Sutton Massachusetts Town Meetings - main page