Phillipston residents review ATM warrant

  • A handful of residents attended a pre-town meeting Tuesday night to review the warrant for Phillipston’s annual town meeting, which takes place next Wednesday. Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 5/3/2019 9:47:28 PM
Modified: 5/3/2019 9:47:15 PM

PHILLIPSTON – A handful of residents gathered in the gymnasium at the Phillipston Memorial Elementary School Wednesday evening to review the 30-article warrant which voters will face at the annual town meeting next week.

Proposals on the warrant include a Proposition 2 ½ override, a change in the status of the town collector, and zoning regulations governing retail marijuana businesses. In addition, voters will be asked to approve a municipal operating budget of slightly more than $2 million, an educational budget of more than $1.6 million, and a Montachusett Regional Vocation Technical School District assessment of approximately $188,000.

The Prop. 2 ½ override seeks $93,000 to provide the Narragansett Regional School District with the funds it says it needs to maintain level services. Voters in Templeton, the other member of the district, are faced with an override of more than $988,000.

“Article 12,” said town Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Flynn, “is where we’re requesting an override to meet the balance of (the district’s) request. There’s not enough ‘raise and appropriate’ money available to meet their request. So, town counsel has advised that we break it out this way, into two articles.”

Flynn provided information noting that an override of $93,000 would add 45 cents to the property tax rate. Flynn’s document also pointed out that a final payment of $84,000 for repairs to the Middle/High School roof was made during the current fiscal year, thus reducing taxes by 41 cents per thousand. However, the first of five payments for repairs to the Queen Lake Dam — $70,400 — will be made in FY20. That will add another 34 cents to the tax rate.

Ultimately, said Flynn, residents could expect to pay $17.23 per $1,000 of property value in the upcoming fiscal year, up from $16.85 this year. If the override fails to pass, the rate would be set at $16.78.

Article 19, Flynn explained, calls for making the post of tax collector and appointed, rather than elected, position. The article further calls for combining the job with that of treasurer.

“This is something that’s been recommended over the years by the (state) Department of Revenue,” said Flynn. “(Collector) Sally (Kastberg) has indicated that she intends not to run for re-election, and so we need to take a vote now on the first part of this. Then we’ll have a ballot vote next year. The reason they’re so apart is because we have to have a minimum of 60 days between them, which means we would otherwise have to come back and have a special meeting sometime 60 days before next year’s election.”

Voters will also consider zoning regulations, proposed by the town’s Planning Board, to govern the establishment of retail marijuana businesses in Phillipston. The proposed bylaw would limit adult use recreational cannabis retailers to somewhere along the Route 2A corridor. A follow-up article commits the town to enacting a 3 percent tax on all marijuana sales.

A number of big-ticket items are also on the warrant. Article 21 calls on voters to transfer funds from the town’s free cash account to pay for repairs to and painting of Town Hall ($36,000), the purchase of five new 3-ton HVAC units for Phillipston Memorial Elementary School ($46,800), and the purchase and installation of a plastics compactor at the Transfer Station ($27,000).

Town officials are also seeking approval to use nearly $47,000 from the Capital Investment Fund to make the second of three payments for the Fire Department’s new brush/rescue/plow truck, along with $36,000 from the same account to repair or replace exterior doors, windows, and siding at the Police Station.

Phillipston’s annual town meeting will be held next Wednesday, May 8 at the Phillipston Memorial Elementary School starting at 7 p.m.

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