Select Board Moves Toward Annual Town Meeting

Annual Town Meeting’s streamlined warrant has been bulked up just a bit with the addition of a concurrent Special Town Meeting (STM). The Special Town Meeting will be held to address a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement with biomedical company Ultragenyx. If approved, the STM would grant the Select Board the ability to negotiate the development of the TIF and to amend an existing development agreement for the site.

The new warrant, with the Special Town Meeting articles included, is complete and will be sent out shortly, according to Town Manager Sarah Stanton. To streamline the warrant, three significant articles are to be postponed indefinitely: Bond Authorizations for the Police Station Renovation, Fire Station Land Acquisition, and the HVAC Replacement at the Library. The removal of these three from the capital budget decreased it from $22 million to $6 million. Select Board chair Ed Pierce asked Stanton to further review capital articles to consider postponing more projects, although they both noted that it was unlikely any others could be postponed. Board member Margot Fleischman agreed with the latter assessment, saying, “I do think that we did a responsible job of triaging our needs the first time, and I’m cognizant of the fact that when it’s time to replace a capital item you’re always balancing that cost of maintenance vs. cost to replace it.”

With the finalization of the warrant, Stanton shared that the town is prepared for the July 11 Annual Town Meeting. Chairs, a sound system, sunblock and bug spray, and water have all been sourced and acquired to provide the utmost safety for all in attendance at the unprecedented outdoor meeting. As the date of the meeting approaches, Stanton explained that the final steps left in preparing for the meeting center primarily around community outreach. The town is working on publicizing the warrant, as well as the logistics and FAQs for the July 11 date.

In another attempt to address questions from the community, Emily Mitchell collaborated with the School Committee on behalf of the Select Board to develop a statement on the FY21 budget cuts which will be presented at ATM, specifically for the school system. The town is facing a $2.2 million reduction for FY21, $1.3 million of which is proposed for the schools.

The Board also agreed to send a short-term contract to Bedford TV to renew their service with the town. Their contract, as the town’s Public, Educational, Government (PEG) provider, expired this year, but discussions of renewing the contract were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Stanton’s proposed six-month contract would allow more time to develop a longer contract while also allowing Bedford TV to continue to operate their PEG programming through December 2020, pending their approval of the contract.

The Board also voted to reappoint attorney George Hall of Anderson Kreiger as Town Counsel. Hall has worked with the town for the past year.

Ken’s New York Deli has offered to set up and sanitize picnic tables on the Town Common. The Board happily approved, adding that they hope the seating on the Common will create an area for takeout diners during the summer, and could perhaps continue into the future.

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