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Board of Selectmen Minutes 05/23/2011
Board of Selectmen
May 23, 2011
Regular Session
Selectmen’s Meeting Room, Town Hall

Arthur J. Bourque III, Chairman
Robert P. MacKendrick, Selectman
Al Merritt, Selectman

Chairman Bourque called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. He announced that the meeting was being recorded for purposes of transmission via cable television.

Proposition 2-1/2 override election
Town Administrator William Gustus noted that town meeting appropriated funds sufficient to maintain level services for the next fiscal year. A number of options were laid out for residents and employees that would achieve a balanced budget despite the $1.5 million difference between projected expenditures and revenues. The Town has reached an agreement with the Public Employees Committee last week in which the Town would join the Commonwealth’s Group Insurance Commission for the provision of employee and retiree health insurance as soon as legally possible. The employee bargaining units must ratify this agreement, and are scheduled to hold ratification votes this week. This agreement would allow the Town to save $750,000 on health insurance premium costs in the coming fiscal year. The budget approved at town meeting anticipated reaching an agreement that would produce that savings.

Town meeting also voted to approve a local meals tax that will generate approximately $100,000 in revenue in the first year With the savings in health insurance, this leaves the budget $560,000 out of balance, which is the amount sought in the Proposition 2-1/2 override, which will be put before voters for approval on Monday, June 6. All precincts will vote at Lynnfield High School. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If voters approve the override, the budget will be in balance. If the override fails, more work must be done on the budget. The School Committee has indicated that if the override fails, it will impose a busing fee for families with students whose children are not entitled to free busing under state law who still wish their children to have busing to school. This would reduce the budget gap to $360,000, and a strategy to close that gap would be required.

However, serious cuts to the budget may be required if the override is not approved. The concession made on employee health insurances was a conditional one, requiring that no layoffs take place. Since cuts to the budget would require layoffs, this would remove that $750,000 in savings. As a result of the need to cut deeper and lay more employees off, total cuts of $2 million would be needed to also provide for the unemployment compensation for those laid off. The impact of those cuts have been outlined by department, with dozens of positions eliminated in the School Department,  as well one firefighter and one police officer, one central administration position, a full-time library position, a Council on Aging van driver, and eight public works positions.

These cuts would be deep and meaningful and will hut services across the board, Mr. Gustus said.

Selectman Merritt said that the process by which the Town was able to secure concessions from employees and retirees on health insurance was a complicated one, and that it involved working with the Town’s legislative delegation. He said that through the leadership of Senator Katherine Clarke and the Town’s relationship with its unions the Town was able to achieve this agreement.

He said that the residents of Lynnfield have put a lot of time, money and effort into their Town, especially their school system, which has new and renovated schools and have seen academic achievement improve immensely. Failure to take the measures to fund the budget plan would create turnover in teaching staff. He asked everyone to consider that the well being of the Town is at stake.

Chairman Bourque said he agreed with Selectman Merritt, and said this is likely the most critical vote the Town has taken during his time. This is not about spending money to do something extra; this is about maintaining day-to-day services. If the Board saw $350,000 that could be cut from the budget without hurting Town services, it would have done so and not have gone through this difficult process. The Town cannot take $2 million from the budget and find a way to maintain services. He said he is optimistic about the Town’s long-term budget plan and its ability to increase revenues through pending developments.

Appointment of MWRA Advisory Board representative
The Board received the resignation of Bruce Kenerson, longtime Lynnfield Water District commissioner, from his role as liaison to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) Advisory Board. The Board received a letter from the Lynnfield Water District Board of Water Commissioners recommending that Paul Humphries, superintendent of the Lynnfield Water District, be named to the liaison position.

On the motion of Selectman Merritt, seconded by Selectman MacKendrick, the Board voted unanimously to accept Mr. Kenerson’s resignation with regret and appoint Mr. Humphries as the Town’s representative to the MWRA Advisory Board.

Chairman Bourque noted that Mr. Kenerson has moved out of Town to live with his son and said he had served the Town well in many capacities and gave an honest opinion on every issue.

Administrative matters and announcements
On the motion of Selectman MacKendrick, seconded by Selectman Merritt, the Board unanimously approved the minutes on the meeting of April 25, 2011.

On the motion of Selectman MacKendrick, seconded by Chairman Bourque, the Board voted 2-0 (Selectman Merritt abstaining, as he did not attend the meeting in question), to approve the minutes of the May 2, 2011 meeting.

Mr. Gustus informed residents that the customary Memorial Day parade and observance will be held on Monday, May 30.

Selectman MacKendrick informed residents that a program observing the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks will be held on September 11, with events and the police and fire stations and the common, as well as an evening Service of Remembrance.

Chairman Bourque announced that the Board’s meeting schedule through August would consist of the following dates: Thursday, June 9; Monday, June 20; Monday, July 18; Monday, August 15. All meetings will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Selectmen’s Hearing Room, Town Hall.

On the motion of Selectman MacKendrick, seconded by Selectman Merritt, the Board voted to adjourn at 7:20 p.m.

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