PLYMPTON – Rep. Thomas J. Calter spoke to Plympton Selectmen Monday night, explaining the state’s budget process, and took that opportunity to dispel rumors that special legislation was filed to prevent the question of whether to allow the purchase of some five acres of Silver Lake Regional High School land to the Town of Kingston to come up for a town meeting vote.
The articles were on the annual town meeting warrant in both Halifax and Plympton, and voters in both towns were told at Town Meeting that these articles were to be passed over.
Silver Lake Regional High School Committee voted to create legislation so that the land could be sold. Without that legislation, the land could not be sold, “because the school district is not a town. Not one of the 351 cities and towns.” In the existing statute, which was passed and enacted dozens of years ago, Calter continued, there was no vehicle included to allow the district to sell the land.
Legislation was drafted in collaboration with the Kingston town attorney and the Silver Lake District attorney, Calter told the group, and it is his job to present the legislation as requested by the District, to the House counsel to perfect it and put it into form. The bill was then filed.
Discussion ensued as to whether or not the towns needed to vote on this and why the article was passed over at Plympton’s and Halifax’s annual town meetings. “The town of Kingston must vote on it,” Calter said, “because they are the ones spending the funding.“ In every other case when special legislation is enacted to sell district property, there is no precedent for the member towns to vote individually. “I have no opinion as to whether or not they should be included; that’s not my job,” Calter continued. “That’s the Regional School district’s job. I am only the conduit for filing the legislation,” he said. The legislation is separate from whether or not the towns vote on the proposal.
Susan Ossoff, chairman of the Plympton Finance Committee, asked about how long it will take for the legislation to be voted upon. “I’m not pushing the vote right now because if the Kingston town meeting says no again, there is no reason to put this through.”
In response to a question by Selectperson Christine Joy, Calter explained that if the bill passes, it is not requiring the transaction, it just permits the transaction.
Each town gets its portion of the sale, in answer to Dale Pleau’s question, based on student population, except for Kingston, who will donate its share back to the district to be put toward capital funds and spent at the discretion of the Regional Scool Committee.
A member of the audience asked if the purchase price of the land, which many thought to be too low, was still at $250,000 for the 5 acre parcel with considerable frontage on Route 27, in a commercial zone. Maureen Springer, Plympton’s member on the Silver Lake Regional School Committee, answered that an independent appraiser was employed who presented a multi-page appraisal to the committee supporting the price. It is five acres out of a 20-acre piece, she said, with quite a bit of wetlands on it. Springer said that Kingston was considering using that wet area for parking. Springer furthered that the purchase and sale agreement had been drawn up and agreed to by both parties, but has not been signed.
“Personally, I think that the Town of Kingston should have come to each of the towns and presented their proposal,” Springer told the board.
Selectmen Chairman Colleen Thompson said, if the legislation passes as it stands, then the people of Halifax and Plympton would have no voice, other than the towns’ representatives on the Silver Lake School Committee.
Springer answered, “That is correct. I was voted to represent the Town of Plympton in the Silver Lake Regional School District, and it was my judgment call to vote for the sale of this parcel of land.” Springer went on to say that she and the school committee did their due diligence for a year and a half and that only now these questions have come up.
Christine Joy left the meeting to attend the Carver Redevelopment Committee meeting and will report back to the board.
Where’s the water going?
A question came from the floor – who is monitoring the water business on Brook Street? A citizen who did not identify himself told the board that the river by Dick Reynolds’ house is dry. He said he has never seen it dry. His neighbor’s house water pressure is low. Wells are going dry in town. Tank truck after tank truck take water out of town. “Who monitors that? … How much are they allowed to take?”
Town administrator Dale Pleau answered that they are largely self-reporting and that the town is still in litigation with the company. “Do we know what they are agreed to take out?”
They are allowed a certain amount under the agreement that is currently in litigation. Pleau said it would be a good idea to run it by Town Counsel. Selectmen voted to allow Coleen Thompson to contact Town Counsel on the water matter and to ask town counsel if there is any language in the agreement that deals with extreme conditions.
Do selectmen need to meet every week?
It has been brought to the chairman’s attention that other boards of selectmen in nearby towns only meet every other week. Traynor said “It seems like we have still a lot on our plates, ” The board will discuss it further, but will not meet Sept. 19, at which time John Traynor will attend the Massachusetts Municipal Association meeting which this time is in Plymouth. He said he has never been to one of their meetings and would like to see if it is worthwhile to attend.
Assistant Assessor Deb Stuart asked Selectmen Chairman Thompson if selectmen would like to meet with the Board of Assessors to discuss a split tax classification, giving a higher tax rate to business property, and a lower rate to residential tax payers.
“It is my understanding that the Assessors want to hold the meeting in their office because they do not want to appear in film,” Traynor told the board, but he wants to be sure that an important item such as classification hearing be held in an open meeting which is filmed.
Thompson said that in the past the assessors have come to the board of selectmen and the two boards have discussed the matter.
“Tax classification is a formal hearing,” Pleau said.
It is my understanding it is a two-step process, Traynor said, the first to discuss it at their next meeting, and then a second meeting where they would come back to the BOS with their recommendation.
The second portion, when they meet with Plympton, has been filmed. “Other towns film every meeting,” Traynor said.
Thompson said she would agree with that.
Pleau added that there was a proposal for that type of a bylaw in recent years but it was shot down before it ever made it to the warrant.
Pleau recommended that it be done in a bylaw change. “You can tape a meeting with a laptop at the end of a table,” he said.
Thompson will attend that meeting with the Assessors.
No takers for Town Counsel
Pleau reported to selectmen that there had been no response from the ad in the Central Register where Plympton had advertised an RFP, or Request for Proposals, seeking new options for town counsel. Pleau was surprised by the lack of response and said he will publish it again in the Central Register. “It could be political,” he said. Thompson said to publish it again.
In other business
• New push brace on Forest Street and new pole on Spring Street will deal with low-hanging utility wires at those two locations. Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the two projects. There was no one there to comment so that part of the public hearing was omitted.
• The town of Rockland is pulling out of the Mayflower Municipal Healthcare group to go with a new group that is forming. Plympton currently has its health insurance through Mayflower and is concerned that the loss of Rockland will destabilize the group and thus will investigate its options. Preliminary reports say that Mayflower is increasing its rates by 17%.
• Fire Chief Warren Borsari notified selectmen that his department has been denied two federal grants under the Assistance to Firefighters Federal Grants Program, and would need funding to replace equipment, such as air packs and other items that are at or approaching the 10 year product use expectancy.
• Plympton selectmen will set up a schedule for several “Meet the Selectmen” sessions to give residents a chance to meet with a selectman and discuss issues of concern. Selectmen’s Chairman Colleen Thompson said she could take an hour Thursday mornings and Selectman John Traynor said he could do about any morning. The board will consult with Joy to see when she might be able to give some time before they make a final schedule.
• T.L. Edwards Company has given an older model street sweeper to the town, Pleau told the board. It needs some work, but not a lot, and Highway Superintendent James Mulcahy appreciated the gift. It will allow him to do Plympton streets by the highway department, where it had been previously hired out
• The next meeting of the Plympton Board of Selectmen will be Sept. 26 at 6 p.m.
The Halifax Board of Selectmen has tentatively approved the placement of LED Stop signs at the intersection of Pine Street and Plymouth Street in Halifax.
These new signs would replace the standard Stop signs that are located on Pine Street on each side of the intersection.
The LED Stop signs would provide motorists on Pine Street with a more visible warning of the intersection and the need to come to a full stop before proceeding.
The LED Stop signs would be lit 24 hours a day with a steady light and would not be flashing signs nor be turned “on” only when a vehicle arrived at the intersection.
The Board is accepting public comment about this proposal for the Board’s meeting on Tuesday, September 27. Interested parties can contact the Selectmen’s office by calling 781-294-1316 or by by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to reach the Town Administrator.